I Tried Banana Ketchup—Here’s What You Need to Know
To find out what all the fuss was about, I tried banana ketchup and created a homemade version, too.
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Born out of innovation and resourcefulness, banana ketchup is the delightfully tangy and sweet, little cousin to the more widely known tomato ketchup. We’re here to give you our thoughts on this popular Filipino condiment, as well as provide our own banana ketchup recipe for you to make at home.
Banana ketchup may seem like a new trend, but it’s actually been around for about 100 years. It was popularized in the Philippines and much more recently made its way to the U.S. by way of fast-food chain JolliBee, where it’s featured in their Filipino spaghetti.
What Is Banana Ketchup?
Banana ketchup was invented by Maria Orosa, a Filipina food chemist who wanted to decrease the Philippines’ reliance on culinary imports. Americans had introduced people there to shelf-stable foods like tomato ketchup, which they used on foods like garlic fried rice, hot dogs, fried chicken and Spam. Imported tomatoes were necessary to make ketchup, so Orosa got to work making a replacement that could be produced entirely within the country. Orosa discovered that a similar condiment could be made with vinegar, spices and bananas instead of tomatoes, and voila! Banana ketchup. It’s remained a staple in Filipino cuisine ever since.
How Does Banana Ketchup Taste?
So how does it taste? Unsurprisingly, banana ketchup tastes very similar to tomato ketchup but a lot sweeter. The texture and flavor are both reminiscent of sweet and sour sauce.
I tried both Jufran Brand Banana Sauce in original flavor and Hot and Spicy on hot dogs, french fries, and Filipino spaghetti. The sweetness and tanginess counteract salty and crunchy foods really nicely. The spicy version, although it looks indistinguishable from the original flavor, definitely packs some heat so proceed with caution.
Where Do You Buy Banana Ketchup?
If there is a Filipino market near you, you should have no problem finding banana ketchup. It’s also easily available at larger grocery stores and can be ordered online. I found it at a local supermarket, but your most reliable source will be online. A few brands to look for include Jufran, Baron and UFC. If you’d like to try making it at home, we’ve got a recipe for you!
How to Make Banana Ketchup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Large saucepan
- Blender or food processor
Step 1: Saute
In a medium skillet, saute onion, jalapeno and ginger in oil until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Step 2: Simmer
Add bananas, brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, water, soy sauce and spices. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until well combined and slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Blend
Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cool completely before serving.
Banana Ketchup Tips
What do you serve with banana ketchup?
As I mentioned above, banana ketchup is often used to make Filipino spaghetti, and as a condiment on hot dogs and french fries. But it’s also eaten on garlic fried rice, scrambled eggs, fried Spam, lumpia (Filipino style egg rolls), tortang talong (Filipino eggplant omelet), Bola-Bola (Filipino style meatballs), Filipino style fried chicken, and hamburgers. You could also try serving it with grilled chicken or brats. No matter how it’s eaten, banana ketchup is a delicious and nostalgic staple that is sure to be found at any Filipino family gathering.
How do you store banana ketchup?
Homemade banana ketchup should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it should stay fresh for up to two weeks. The store-bought version is shelf-stable, but once it’s been opened it should be kept in the fridge. Our guide to how long condiments last will remind you how long you can keep other sauces before they need to be replaced.
Now that you know more about banana ketchup, make sure you brush up on other Asian sauces that you should have stocked alongside the Filipino staple.