While it may sound odd, Filipino Banana Ketchup is a delicious condiment that is sweet and tangy, and remarkably similar to tomato ketchup in flavor. Give it a try with this easy recipe. You might just forget there are bananas in there!
What Is Banana Ketchup?
If you sit down for lunch in the Philippines, you might want to look twice before you reach for the nearest red condiment to add to your fries.
Most people outside of the Philippines, are not familiar with this red, tomato ketchup alternative. But, in the Philippines, people love their banana ketchup.
As the name implies, this red, sweet and tangy condiment is, in fact, made from bananas. But, if you were to taste it, you’d probably never guess.
Why Bananas In Ketchup?
Credit for banana ketchup goes to Maria Orosa (1893–1945) who was a food chemist with a goal to reduce the Philippines’ reliance on imported goods, like tomatoes.
As Americans began traveling to the Philippines, they introduced the locals to canned goods and American condiments, like ketchup. Maria Orosa decided to try making a similar condiment out of a local crop: bananas and added little red dye to make the condiment more appealing and visually similar to the American import.
Near the end of WWII, banana ketchup began being mass-produced by Magdala V. Francisco, Sr. One story tells that the initial growth in popularity of banana ketchup was sparked by American soldiers in the Philippines who ran out of tomato ketchup.
But, the concept of a banana condiment is not a strange one in the Philippines. In fact, banana sauce has been widely used in the Philippines for ages.
And yes, most versions of banana ketchup that you will pick up from the store are in fact dyed red.
No trace of tomato, what-so-ever is in the traditional version of this “ketchup”.
Our Filipino Banana Ketchup Recipe
For our version of banana ketchup, we did decide to add a small amount of tomato paste. This allows us to dye the ketchup naturally, and gives the flavor of the ketchup a hint of a familiar, tomato flavor.
We were honestly quite skeptical about this condiment.
I mean, really, tomatoes and bananas just really don’t sound like they belong together.
But, we forged ahead.
And, let me tell you, we were pleasantly surprised.
Actually, we became slightly addicted to this sweet and tangy sauce.
It tastes surprisingly like tomato ketchup in the sweet and tangy categories, there’s just a lack of bright, acidic, tomato-ness. But, honestly, we didn’t really miss it.
How To Use Banana Ketchup
Now, here comes another interesting part.
Back up a minute.
So, we’re putting bananas on our eggs and fried rice?
We weren’t sure about it either.
But, even Tim (who can be a bit picky about his sweet and savory combos) had to agree that these combos were on to something.
So, if you like ketchup, you need to give this banana ketchup a try.
Use it on your eggs, your rice, or even your fries.
As strange as it seems, this works. It really works!
Filipino Banana Ketchup
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 bananas, mashed (roughly 1 c)
- ¼ c tomato paste
- ¼ c brown sugar
- ½ c white vinegar
- ½ c water
- ⅛ tsp cayenne powder
- In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
- Add the mashed bananas, tomato paste, and brown sugar. Mix well.
- Add the vinegar, water, and cayenne powder. Mix well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened slightly.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly. Transfer the cooled mixture to the bowl of your food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
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Sarah is one of Curious Cuisiniere’s founding duo. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.