What's The Difference: Adobo Vs. Lechon Paksiw Vs. Humba

Spot the differences!

IMAGE Bianca Laxamana, Karishma Etong, Shutterstock
ILLUSTRATOR Louis Miguel Talao

Filipino dishes hold a special place in our hearts and tummies. These are the dishes we grew up eating and still enjoy on a daily basis. These dishes are also recipes that have ingredients that are commonly found in the palengkes and supermarkets we frequent. 

That might explain why many people confuse dishes for another. Many of our dishes share the same ingredients. This explains why a government agency wanted to standardize recipes for some of the most popular Filipino dishes such as the well-loved adobo among others. The basic adobo is a simple recipe with around six main ingredients but when you deviate from these ingredients, the confusion sets. The tweaks you make can transform one dish into another

Do you know the difference between adobo, humba, and lechon paksiw? If you don't, here are key points and ingredients that help you spot the differences: 

The lechon paksiw is made with lechon sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
Photo by Shutterstock
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1 Adobo has soy sauce and vinegar. Lechon paksiw has lechon sauce. Humba has sugar. 

You may have noticed that some adobo recipes contain sugar. This addition is actually what separates the adobo from the humba which has been described as a sweet adobo. It shares similar ingredients to adobo such as pork, soy sauce, vinegar, black peppercorns, and garlic. Just like many adobo recipes, the pork for the humba is commonly marinated in a soy sauce-based marinade overnight as well. The big difference in the sauce is really the sugar. 

As for the lechon paksiw, this pork dish is a rich and saucy dish that was originally a leftover recipe.  It used leftover lechon baboy parts and the lechon liver sauce to create the sauce. The sauce also includes vinegar to add tanginess and sugar to boost its appeal, especially for those of us who have a sweet tooth. 

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This adobo recipe doesn't use soy sauce at all.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana

2 Adobo can be made with just vinegar as the main sauce ingredient. 

If you look at all of the recipes, all three dishes contain vinegar. However, the other ingredients in the recipes are what make these dishes all different. 

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If you want the most simple adobo recipe, you need to take a look at what the word actually means. "Adobo" in the original sense is not the dish but rather the way of preserving food which usually resulted in the food being "cooked". The ingredient that was the key to its preservation and cooking method was vinegar. Through time, Chinese influence also affected the dish, and soy sauce was added instead of salt to temper the sourness of the vinegar. This version with soy sauce has become the most popular kind of adobo dish. 

Lechon paksiw is an offshoot of the paksiw, a dish that is also cooked using just vinegar. However, when you make lechon paksiw, the lechon sauce and the sugar added make it look like another dish altogether. It no longer looks like the original paksiw dish

Humba is a pork dish in a soy sauce-based sauce that's sweetened.
Photo by Karishma Etong
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3 Lechon Paksiw is made with pork. Humba uses the pork pata. Adobo uses chicken and pork. 

Even the pork parts of these three dishes are different. Where lechon paksiw can be made with any pork cut from the leftover lechon, humba is made from the pork pata. If you were in Davao and wanted to make it for a celebration, you'd use the whole pork pata for an impressive main dish centerpiece. 

The adobo meanwhile is commonly made with both chicken and pork. The adobo is the only dish of the three where the dish can be made with almost any meat, including bangus, beef, mushrooms, or even tofu. 

Eggs is commonly added to adobo dishes. You can even add potatoes, too!
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4 Humba has banana blossoms and mushrooms. Adobo has eggs. Lechon paksiw is simply meaty. 

Humba is a delicious pork dish but it's not just pork. It also contains banana blossoms and wood ear mushrooms also known as tengang daga. The adobo is more versatile where many variations of the dish see boiled eggs and even potatoes are added to the dish to give it extra bulk. It's a genius idea because the adobo sauce is super delicious when the eggs and the potatoes absorb the sauce flavors. 

The lechon paksiw is the only dish that has seen no additions to the otherwise all-meat dish. 

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