Even though I have quite a few Philippino friends, strangely I’ve never been introduced to the cuisine. Now that I think about it, I don’t even know whether there are good restaurants in Melbourne serving Philippine cuisine. Luckily, Mr Google has proven to be useful in this research and I’ve been learning tons about this cuisine. Of course, it’s not enough to just read about it. Tasting is paramount. And once of the most intriguing thing I wanted to try was Banana Ketchup. It’s totally unique to the country as an alternative to Tomato Ketchup.
The tomato ketchup was brought in by the Americans, but during World War II, there was a tomato shortage. This very clever lady Maria Orosa apparently created the banana version because there are always plenty of bananas in Asia. And soon this became a hit and til this day, many still prefer the banana version over tomato. It’s used in almost everything: burgers, omelettes, fries, meat marinade, even spaghetti!
As you know, making things from scratch is very much my thing (ditch the bottled stuff, you know) and I found a couple of recipes online which are easy to follow. In the end I chose Andrea Nguyen’s version because I have everything except for the annatto seed, which is actually optional just to add some colour to the ketchup. Some people choose to add red food colouring, but I don’t have a problem with yellowish ketchup as long as it tastes good! So here’s how I made my banana ketchup, Paleo-style.
Recipe adapted from VietWorldKitchen
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mined
5 Chili Padi, chopped
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (net 9 oz / 270 gr)
1/2 cup (120 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1 tablespoon Honey
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos
1 bay leaf
Heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and chile, stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until aromatic. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is orange red and the tomato is no longer visible.
Add the mashed bananas, stir to combine well. Then add the vinegar, water, sugar, pepper, clove, salt, liquid aminos, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until thick like—ketchup! Remove from the heat, cool for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and cloves.
Use a mini food processor or blender to puree the mixture. Taste and add water to thin, sugar to sweeten, or vinegar to tartness. Transfer to a jar and use, or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
I’m glad I gave this a go because it’s so delicious! Now I understand why it’s so popular. Similar to tomato ketchup, it has the sweetness and tang, but there’s an extra aroma from the bananas and the addition of spice is such a brilliant idea. I made Frank try a bit and he’s now hooked. I think I might not need to replenish that Heinz ketchup anytime soon, as long as I keep buying bananas.
Next recipe post would be another Philippine dish which goes extremely well with the Banana Ketchup, so stay tuned!