Banana Ketchup Recipe

Spices, rum, jalapeno, and bananas, make this a unique grilling condiment.

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Photographs: Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Bananas add texture and sweetness to this version of ketchup.
  • Subtle spices, vinegar, jalapeno, rum, and soy sauce add flavor and balance to this sweet condiment.

It's only fitting that the number-one gift I receive each holiday season are all the grilling cookbooks that came out in the last year. As I spend the winter months working through each book, I rarely find myself surprised with variations of similar themes that seem to dominate the grilling genre. So, I was a little taken aback when leafing through Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe's Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue and coming across a recipe for banana ketchup.

Marrying into a Filipino family, I've come to know banana ketchup, but never thought it was on the grilling radar enough to get into a grilling cookbook. For those not familiar with this condiment, it was born out of a shortage of tomato ketchup during World War II that forced an alternative made from the plentiful supply of bananas in the Philippines. Bananas, vinegar, and sugar were combined to create a loose facsimile of its tomato counterpart, then dyed red to fit the "ketchup" label.

Dr. BBQ's recipe expands on that, deviating from authenticity and making a more complex sauce that pairs a base that tastes little of bananas, but mainly of sugar, and adds nuanced spices like ginger, turmeric, and allspice along with jalapeño and rum. This is certainly not your average ketchup; banana ketchup is a unique, delicious, and un-tomato-y condiment that deserves the attention it's getting in Slow Fire and now here.

February 2013

Recipe Facts

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Active: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 16 servings
Makes: 2 cups

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 1 small onion)

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño (about 1 small jalapeño)

  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons rum

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • Water, as needed

Directions

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, turmeric, and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    Stirring together onion and spices for banana ketchup.

    Serious Eats

  2. Stir in bananas, vinegar, honey, rum, tomato paste, soy sauce, and salt; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

    Stirring together all of the ingredients for banana ketchup.

    Serious Eats

  3. Transfer ketchup to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Thin with water as needed to reach a ketchup-like consistency. Season with additional salt to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

    Processing banana ketchup until smooth in a food processor.

    Serious Eats

Special Equipment

Food processor

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
67 Calories
2g Fat
12g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 67
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 124mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 5mg 27%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 171mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)