Sweet Potato Fries with Filipino Banana Ketchup

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A ketchup shortage in the Philippines during WWII prompted locals to copy the condiment using what they had on hand: bananas, red food dye, vinegar, sugar and spice. Evolved over the decades, banana ketchup has become the preferred Filipino sauce to slather on everything from hot-dogs to eggs. But San Francisco chef Tim Luym felt the sweet sauce lacked kick. His version, heated up with Malaysian sambal and served with sweet potato fries at his restaurant Attic, was named one of San Francisco city magazine’s “100 Things to Try Before You Die.” It really is that good–and very easy to make.

Makes 1 pint ketchup; 4 servings sweet potato fries

Banana Ketchup Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 mashed, very-ripe Cavendish, or, Burro bananas
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Malaysian Sambal chili sauce (found at Asian markets)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 candlenut, ground (Traditionally used to thicken sauces, the candlenut has an oil content similar to the macademia nut, but a stronger flavor)
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bay leaf

Sweet potato fries Ingredients

2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips 1/4-inch wide
1 quart canola oil or vegetable oil for deep fat fryer
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh-snipped sage
1 tsp fresh snipped parsley


  1. Make ketchup: In an enameled or non-reactive pot, sweat the onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Poke clove into bay leaf and add to the pot.
  3. Stir in mashed bananas.
  4. Combine remaining ingredients and add to pot, simmering until bananas are broken down and very tender. Remove bay leaf/clove. Transfer the ketchup into a food processor and puree until smooth. Cool and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Make sweet potato fries: After cutting sweet potatoes, heat oil in fryer to 350 degrees.
  6. While oil comes up to temperature, in a mixing bowl, combine corn starch and rice flour. Dredge potatoes in this mixture.
  7. Deep fry potatoes in batches until golden. Drain on paper towels. Toss with salt, curry, sage and parsley. Serve with banana ketchup.

2 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Fries with Filipino Banana Ketchup

  1. Just curious about this recipe. I would like to try this recipe as I do like banana Ketchup. The recipe makes 2 cups and calls out for banana(s) but am I using 2 or 18 to make this recipe? I can likely come up with a replacement or equivalent for the ground candlenut but the rest of the recipe looks complete as is. Please let me know the banana proportions.

    • Ah! Sorry about that Chris, and thanks for letting me know that fell off–it’s 2 very ripe Cavendish bananas, or, you can use 2 very ripe Burro bananas (very nice, too.) I’ve updated the recipe.

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