Humba (Braised Pork Belly)

Today’s my first day in Barcelona. My sister told me that Barcelona is so ‘me,’ and she was definitely right about that. My day started by visiting Plaza Catalanuya, and its surrounding areas. That place was very touristy which really abhors me for some reason. I went around the area like many (too many)  checking the city of sights, extremely gorgeous Spanish women, sounds only familiar to this side of the world and discovered a bunch of Tapas Bars and Restaurants, Deli Counters, Fastfood Joints (Mcdo, BK) which were utterly overpriced and choices appropriate only for the English speaking tourist.  That was not for me. I went to one bar, tried a couple of Tapas, and was dissatisfied with the presentation and the overall taste. I expected more.

I was however lucky enough to be housed by Holiday Inn Express in Poblenou which was located south of the city centre. The town or stop where it’s located was celebrating a Fiesta on the weekend when I arrived, and the Tapas Bars and Restaurants, although it was still a little touristy, were alive and bustling with people from toddlers to seniors.  Marching bands played around town, circling rotondas while the Spaniards drunk the night away in celebration of the fiesta.  Spaniards were definitely in for the fun who in my surprise and delight also had the habit of peeing in corners as the acrid smell of pee whiffed in dark alley ways and surrounding, enclosed trash bins.  Beer (Estrella & San Miguel), of course played a major role.   Imagine a small town fiesta in the Philippines.  My night of Tapas fun just started; so with my drinking belly.  I checked three tapas bars along the streets and found one which served Pig’s Ears. That dish blew me away at first bite!-Pig’s Ears in the streets of Barcelona. I just had to have a bite of this succulent Spanish version of the popular Filipino delicacy. I was speechless. It was so similar to Tokwa’t Baboy without the Tokwa and theToyo & Suka.

The taste got stuck in my head thereafter.  Ingredients were not muffled by complex spices; just about three to four available in the local area.   I made Tokwa’t Baboy for Iska using the traditional approach.  This has a very similar inclination to the way the Pig’s Ears was boiled and prepared but with a strong hint of Pimiento.  I also used Pork Butt as my choice of meat.  I remember eating Braised Pork growing up and when I made some research, discovered that it was actually Humba. I double checked the ingredients on-line and looked at my ever reliable cookbooks, but didn’t follow as directed. The usual Filipino ingredients were mentioned and written down as expected with a few extra vegetables added in the cooking process.

I wanted to taste the meat and didn’t want any heavy tomato sauce to cover the spice and the olive oil.  This is a stripped down version of that dish with the purpose of recreating what I ate in Spain.  It’s perfect with bread or rice and since I haven’t eaten rice in the last couple of weeks, I steamed a cup and smothered it with the olive oil and Pimiento mixture. The texture though was different from a Pig’s Ears; that would come sooner or later


  • ¼ lb. Pork Butt or Lean Pork
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Laurel (Bay Leaves)
  • Pimenton Picante
  • Garlic
  • Sea Salt

Cut the Pork Butt into bite size pieces, and boil the Pork Butt using cold water. Throw the first boil to remove all the scum that rises during the boiling process.

Start another pot of warm water and let it boil to simmer until tender together with sea salt, Laurel and Black Peppercorns.  Strain the pot and let the pork cool down. Set aside.

Take a portion from the boiled pork and pour a generous amount olive oil and sea salt. Set the stovetop on low and warm it using a sauté pan together with some slivers of garlic.  Add some Pork Stock along the way just to keep the meat from drying up.  Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with sea salt and Pimenton Picante.

The Pimenton Picante is a very addictive spice.  It’s sprinkled on almost every dish in Catalunuya as I recalled, and when I went to a supermarket, discovered several other variations of the spice.  Without hesitation, I took several bottles from the shelves knowing I would use them as frequently as my other spices in my shoe box.

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