Bite Sized Guide: Banana Ketchup
What Is It?
Banana ketchup (also commonly labeled Banana Sauce) is a condiment made of mashed bananas, brown sugar, vinegar, spices, and a little red dye because aesthetic. There are a number of different brands you can find on the market today, but Jufran and UFC are top favorites for many both in the Philippines and across the diaspora.
Illustration by L.D. Nehls
What Does It Taste Like?
Surprisingly, not at all like bananas! It has a similar taste and texture to tomato ketchup, but is sweeter and slightly less tangy.
How Is It Eaten?
The sweetness of banana ketchup pairs nicely with the salty, vinegary flavors prevalent in Filipino cooking. While it can accompany the types of food you’d associate with ketchup -- burgers, fried chicken, etc -- it’s also served alongside traditional Filipino dishes. Favorites include tortang talong (charred eggplant omelet), silogs (Filipino breakfast platters of garlic fried rice, egg, and deliciously spiced breakfast meats), or cooked into the distinctively sweet sauce unique to Filipino spaghetti (more on that in the future!).
Bite Sized History
The origins of this beloved and nostalgic condiment are credited to Maria Ylagan Orosa. A brilliant and innovative food chemist, Orosa advocated for the use of native ingredients as part of her mission in fostering a self-sustaining Philippines. She studied indigenous plants and experimented with various methods of food preservation to limit the Philippines' dependency on foreign trade. With this in mind, Orosa used endemic saba banana in her original ketchup recipe during a time when the Philippines was heavily reliant on tomato imports. Though banana ketchup is by far Orosa's most popular invention, she is credited with over 700 recipes -- many of which remain Filipino pantry staples to this day!
Where Can I Find It In Cincinnati?
Top Image: Cilantro Frites from Dean's Mediterranean with a side of Banana Ketchup.
Photo: JP Leong