What’s The Difference: Pata Tim Vs. Humba

Both use the pork pata but it tastes different.

IMAGE David Hanson
ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

Both the humba and the pata tim may look the same. These dishes use similar ingredients, too. In fact, both the humba and the pata tim use soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar in their recipes, and both contain wood ear mushrooms. Both are also slow cooked so the pork is super tender and succulent when served. 

The pata tim and the humba are very similar but there are distinct differences that make each unique its own way.  

1 Humba is Visayan. The pata tim is Chinese. 

The word "humba" is allegedly taken from humot nga baboy, which translates to "soft, fragrant pork". The "hum" from "humor" and "ba" from "baboy". 

The pata tim meanwhile is a Filipino-Chinese recipe. You'll see the influence in the ingredients that are used, especially the Shaoxing wine, a Chinese cooking rice wine. While the one you make at home can omit this ingredient if you don't have it available or use it often, the more authentic recipe usually includes this ingredient in its braising liquid. 

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However, the difference lies beyond origin and it's these finishing touches that make these two dishes distinct and unique in flavor. 

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2 Humba can use other parts of the pork. Pata tim uses the pata.   

The pata tim uses the pork cut that it's named for: the pork pata. While the humba commonly uses the pata as well, especially for celebrations and fiestas, it is not tied to being used specifically just for the pata. The leg that includes the pork knuckles that you might use for the crispy pata is a common cut but the pork belly and other fatty cuts can also be used for the recipe. 

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3 Humba is a sweet adobo. Pata tim uses star anise. 

The humba is often likened to the adobo with a big difference: the sweetness of the sauce. This stark contrast to the savory adobo, usually with its salty-tangy flavor that makes it distinctly an adobo recipe, is one of the main ingredients not in a classic adobo recipe. The others are the addition of wood ear mushrooms and banana blossoms. 

The pata tim on the other hand also have similar ingredients to the adobo since it too has soy sauce, peppercorns, and vinegar but without the tangy flavor as well. It too is sweet but the main flavor that you will instantly tell you that it's not an adobo is the aroma of star anise. This is paired with oyster sauce and served with bok choy for some greens. 

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4 Humba is saucy. Pata tim is soupy. 

The humba is really a braised dish. Since this is the way it's cooked, the humba is usually left with a small amount of sauce at the end of cooking that is naturally thickened because of the gelatin in the pork skin. The pata tim is more soupy in its final presentation. The pata is simmered until tender as well, but what little sauce or soup is left after cooking does not need to be thickened. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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