Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Ketchup feat. Banana Sambal Ketchup

Hey there!

I think it's safe to say that there's no condiment that gets as bad a rap as ketchup, and probably deservedly so. Scourge of foodies everywhere, this ubiquitous saucepaste was pretty much the main condiment the most of us grew up with. We considered fries useless without it, we drowned our KD in it, and it completed our burgers (well, maybe your burgers, I switched to topping my burgs with BBQ sauce when I was around 8). But as palettes grew up, ketchup became a bit, well, gross. I stopped using it years ago except maybe for fries (when I didn't feel like using Sriracha Mayo) and homemade BBQ sauce, and then only when it's really high quality stuff, like this. As for "57 Flavours", blech.

So, you'd think the last place I bring up ketchup would be here on my super-epic foodie blog, right? So what am I doing here talking about it? Well, a legend/rumour I heard once has it that ketchup was originally made from bananas instead of tomatoes and I found that idea totally intriguing. Turns out that "origin story"is a load of rich creamery butter. BUT! I found this neat tidbit in internetland (yay wikipedia!):

Banana ketchup or banana sauce is a popular Philippine condiment made from mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and spices. Its natural color is brownish, so it is often dyed red to resemble tomato ketchup. Banana ketchup was made when there was a shortage of tomato ketchup during World War II, due to lack of tomatoes and a comparatively high production of bananas.

So, the idea of Banana Ketchup isn't too crazy. I'll admit I don't know what possessed me to whip together, probably something to do with nigh overripe tomatoes and bananas. Either way, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I also thought it would be a good idea to make it a little spicy, hence the use of sambal oelek, which is a chili paste of Indonesian origin.

Banana Sambal Ketchup

Makes about a cup

- 2 tbsp vegetable, olive or avocado oil
- 2-3 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek (MAX!)
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 1/2 cup beer
- 2 cloves, ground
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 star anise pod, ground
- 4-5 cardamom seeds, ground
- 2-3 allspice berries, ground
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dry ginger (or 1 tbsp fresh, minced)
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp honey

- Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high and sauté the tomato, onion and garlic. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, until onions are translucent and tomatoes are mushy.
- Stir in vinegars, tomato paste, sambal oelek, sugar, molasses, beer and seasonings, mix well and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low (1-2) and allow to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes.
- Stir in bananas, Worcestershire sauce and honey and cook for another 5-10 minutes. NOTE: the banana will dissolve quickly if ripe which is why I left it till the end, but if you're stuck with an under-ripe banana, you'll want to start cooking it earlier.  
- Remove from heat and serve when ketchup has cooled. Refrigerate unused portion in a glass jar. If you want a smooth ketchup, puree in a blender. I prefer a "rustic" style ketchup.

Topping for a burger and, mixed with garlic sauce, a great dip for sweet potato fries!  

So, the recipe I've provided is the "after" version, after discovering that 2 tablespoons of sambal and 2 tablespoons of honey was too much of both, hence why I've adjusted the amounts of each ingredient. But, even a little screwed up, it was delicious! I'm convinced when I make it again to spec, it'll be possibly my new condiment of choice.


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