11/10/2012 10:41:00 AM

Chef Secrets: Banana Ketchup at Maharlika and Jeepney

One of the most common responses we receive after suggesting a meal at one of our East Village staples, Maharlika, is concern over not recognizing items on the menu. We understand, but it's okay. A) Think of it has an adventure B) the staff could not be more approachable when it comes to wanting to help C) They just opened up another Filipino restaurant, Jeepney, and it has a burger. No more fretting.

In honor of Burger Week we of course had to try it, and were pleased to see that along with the expected ingredients (lettuce, tomato, red onion and beef patty - here complimented by a layer of slightly sweet logganisa sausage sans casing), they added kewpie mayo and slathered on some banana ketchup.

For the uninitiated, we wanted to clear up any confusion. What exactly is banana ketchup, which can be found alongside a number of dishes here?

Co-owner Nicole Ponseca shares that its an homage to the U.S. tomato ketchup that was introduced during WWII, and "when tomatoes were rationed...banana sauce was born." Picture the same flavors of  regular ketchup - the vinegar, sugar, spices, but sub out tomatoes for mashed bananas and add a little red food coloring. Contrary to expectations, it's not overly sweet and has its own distinct savory flavor.

Here you'll find it adding a kick to Spam fries, the burger or logganisa sausage at brunch, but at home, she recommends trying it on fried chicken or by creating "Filipino spaghetti," which uses banana ketchup instead of tomato sauce. The world has been exposed to 'sketti, so why not elevate the concept with some international flair and stronger ingredients? Just be sure to use the Jufran version, which Nicole assures us is the best, and can be purchased at either restaurant.

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