Yes, it’s bananas! This is the homemade Filipino version of bottled ‘ketchup’, except ours is made from bananas, not tomatoes. This tropical innovation stemmed from a WW2 tomato shortage and is my favourite way to use up overripe bananas — and waaaay more versatile than banana bread!
I originally tried this recipe served with chicken adobo pies years ago to use leftover adobo. It pairs well with anything you’d use tomato sauce on, and is traditionally eaten with lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) or tortang talong (whole eggplant omelette). I like it as a snack to dip chicharon (fried pork rinds) in, as the tangy sweetness cuts through the richness.
During Ottolenghi Chef Helen Goh’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2020: Online edition chat with Pat Nourse she waxed lyrical about her newfound love of Filipino cuisine. All the Filipino viewers cheered together loudly from home! She noted tortang talong as one of her absolute favourites and slipped in mention of homemade banana catsup being at the top of her ‘to cook’ list. Pat Nourse actually ended up sharing this very recipe in his instagram stories! Next day he got a special delivery from chef John Rivera! See below for Pat’s post and a beautiful show of the Filipino community spirit in Australia.
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The magic of MFWF Online in action: only a few hours ago, I was lucky enough to be chatting with Helen Goh on IG Live for the festival when she mentioned some of her new food obsessions, tortang talong and banana ketchup. Now thanks to the twin miracles of the internet and the Melbourne Filipino food community, I am sitting down to strikingly excellent examples of both, thanks to the generosity of chef John Rivera. John takes the essential tortang talong combination of blackened eggplant swaddled in omelette and adds crab, dialling it up to 11 with the addition of crab fat to his garlic fried rice. Oh and the banana ketchup? Homemade and entirely delicious. THANK YOU JOHN. THANK YOU HELEN. What a week. #mfwfonline
For best results, use almost-black bananas that you’d usually reserve for banana bread — using less ripe ones will cause your sauce to jellify at room temperature. It will still be delicious, but not quite the right texture.
HOMEMADE BANANA CATSUP (BANANA ‘KETCHUP’)
- 2 very ripe bananas (almost black), mashed till smooth (approx. 1 cup)
- 2 medium eschallots, finely diced (or 1/2 a small brown onion)
- 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 60ml cane/white vinegar
- 60ml water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
- 3cm ginger, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon)
- 3cm turmeric, finely grated (approx 1 tablespoon fresh, 1 teaspoon if using ground turmeric)
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- optional 1 birdseye chilli, finely sliced (1/4 tsp chilli flakes)
1. Heat oil in a medium non-stick pan on medium heat. Cook the eschallots until translucent.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and all spice to the pan. Cook till spices are fragrant.
3. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring well. Follow with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chilli and mashed banana. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often until it starts to thicken.
4. Add 60ml of water or more as needed to reach desired consistency. It’s usually best between thick and runny, but it will thicken a bit as it cools. Taste and add extra seasoning to your liking. Take off the heat. Blend with a stick blender to get a smoother texture.
To store, allow sauce to cool and transfer to airtight sterilised jars or containers. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. It can be kept longer, but use your own judgement.
Traditional Filipino dishes — Tortang talong (eggplant omelette) lumpia shanghai (Filipino spring rolls) any breakfast silogs (rice+meat, I did longsilog further up).
More modern applications — As I said…anywhere you’d use tomato sauce! I’ve enjoyed it with steak, roasted veg, on a bacon and egg roll, with marinated tofu and rice…it’s all good! 👌
This Filipino condiment was presented by me at SAHOG @ Home with Filipino Food Movement – an Instagram Live series by @filipinofoodmovementau featuring their most loved Australian Filipino chefs, cooks and food lovers. Don’t miss the next one! I also prepared burong mangga (pickled green mango) and atchara (pickled green papaya relish). I’ll post my other recipes here with more serving suggestions soon!