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.