Learn why this treasured Filipino condiment should be in your fridge.
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When Americans hear the word "ketchup," their first thoughts are of a tomato-heavy sauce, but in the Philippines, it brings to mind a banana-based condiment that's beloved throughout the country. Banana ketchup, a bottled sauce that's either light brown or bright red, is a staple ingredient for many popular Filipino dishes. So how exactly did this unique condiment come to be? And how can you use it in your kitchen? Read below to find out:

Where Did Banana Ketchup Come From?

Food technologist Maria Ylagan Orosa is credited with inventing banana ketchup. During the 1930s, Orosa dedicated herself to bolstering the Philippines by working to create dishes that could replace popular imported foods. Her focus on utilizing locally available ingredients inspired her to recreate ketchup, which featured tomatoes that were in limited supply, and instead swapping in plentiful bananas. In 1942 is when the first commercially mass-produced banana ketchup was made and distributed by the company known today as the Universal Food Corporation (UFC).

banana ketchup bottles on a blue background
Credit: Allrecipes

What Is Banana Ketchup Made From?

Banana ketchup obviously starts with a base of finely mashed or puréed bananas. The exact other components vary depending on which brand or recipe, but common ingredients include vinegar, sugar, and spices. Some banana ketchups are dark yellow or light brown, while others include a dash of red food coloring to further emulate tomato-based ketchup.

What Does Banana Ketchup Taste Like?

Banana ketchup is a sweet and tangy condiment. Thanks to the vinegar and spice blend, it's relatively similar to tomato ketchup, but with a twist of fruitiness. Ideally, it's paired with savory and salty dishes, which balances out the condiment's natural sweetness.

How to Use Banana Ketchup

Banana ketchup can be used in any way you'd use tomato ketchup. Drizzle it on a hot dog or burger, or use it to dip chicken fingers and fries. Try it over eggs and rice, or serve on the side with grilled meat. But if you want to see banana ketchup at its finest, try it in a traditional Filipino recipe. It's popular spooned over tortang talong, similar to an eggplant omelet, or tossed in Filipino spaghetti made with pasta, hot dog slices, ground meat (often beef or pork), tomato sauce, and banana ketchup.

Where to Buy Banana Ketchup

You can find banana ketchup in the condiments section of most well-stocked Asian grocery stores. Some brands are labeled as "banana sauce" but are easily identifiable as a variation of banana ketchup. This beloved condiment is also available for purchase online.

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