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Banana Ketchup Ribs from Nicole Ponseca’s “I am a Filipino…and this is how we cook”.

Banana Ketchup Ribs from Nicole Ponseca’s “I am a Filipino…and this is how we cook”.
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Memorial Day Weekend is just days away…here’s what to cook:

These incredible Ribs are what their creator, Nicole Ponseca, calls ‘an homage to American Southern-style, slow-cooked ribs’ revved up with Filipino flavors.  You don’t even have to have an outdoor grill to enjoy them.  The ribs are rubbed in a spice mix and oven-baked till they fall off the bone.  A glaze made of Banana Ketchup, a Filipino condiment with a glorious back story, is slathered on. The ribs go under the broiler for just minutes. Because you may have to order Banana Ketchup online, I wanted you to have this recipe early in the week to do so. The link follows.  Here’s the story of this great dish. But first, come to a party.

Two Junes ago, Andrew and I went to a wonderful party.

Adam Sachs on our S.A.L.T. Exploration.

It was Silversea’s celebration of S.A.L.T., Silversea’s extraordinary new Culinary program.  S.A.L.T. is the acronym for Sea And Land Taste.  The party was a reunion with most of the press who were on board ship to test out the program in March 2019.  It was held at the home of Evyn Block and Adam Sachs.  Adam is the inventor of S.A.L.T. He and Evyn opened their gorgeous home in Clinton Hill to literally dozens of us who were involved in the ‘test run’ in the Philippines and any number of New York Food Royalty.  I came home from that trip and wrote about it for three separate publications and for Silversea’s own Blog.  The link to the Silversea article comes after this wonderful recipe.

The Star Chef at the event was the marvelous Nicole Ponseca.

I wrote all about Nicole in a previous post. A San Diego native, she arrived in New York to pursue an Advertising Career and ended up opening two of the city’s best-known Filipino restaurants. With her then-partner Miguel Trinidad, she co-authored “I am Filipino and this is how we cook”(Artisan, A Division of Workman Publishing Company 2019). In the book,  you’ll find dozens of great Filipino recipes. There she was in Evyn and Adam’s glorious kitchen while her crew provided masses of food to the masses of food writers in attendance.  Nicole even brought along Marlo Gamora to bartend. Marlo is the mix master for the drinks at Nicole’s Jeepney Gastropub in New York. He told me that Nicole and he are already collaborating on her second book, the title yet to be revealed.

Why Banana Ketchup is a favorite Filipino condiment.

Or, as the label says “Banana Sauce”.  The US presence in the Philippines began with the end of the Spanish American War in 1898.  The US was literally given the Archipelago in exchange for the now paltry sum of $30 million dollars.  With the Yanks’ arrival came all sorts of US foodstuffs—the most famous being Spam and Ketchup.  Come World War II, tomatoes were in short supply.  So Maria Orosa e Ylagan, the daughter of a prominent Filipino family, stepped in to help.  She was a food genius and a trained pharmaceutical chemist.  While there was a tomato shortage, there was a surplus of bananas.

Maria invented a condiment made from mashed bananas, sugar, vinegar, and spices.

Its color was brownish-yellow but it was dyed red to simulate tomato ketchup. I find it absolutely delicious. It’s sweeter than tomato ketchup but just as piccant.  Tragically, its inventor Maria died a very young death at the age of 51 of shrapnel injuries during a battle in Manila in 1945. But Banana ketchup is her lasting legacy.  You can find it at Asian markets or order it online at https://www.filstop.com/filipino-groceries/

Banana Ketchup Ribs

May 24, 2021
: 4-6
: Easy

Pork Ribs are rubbed in a garlic, ginger, paprika spice mix, cooked in the oven and then glazed with banana ketchup under the broiler.


  • ¼ cup garlic powder
  • ¼ cup onion powder
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup ground ginger
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 racks of St. Louis style pork spareribs
  • 2 cups of Banana Ketchup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • Step 1 In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic powder, onion powder, ¼ cup of the brown sugar, the ginger, paprika, and pepper.
  • Step 2 Place the ribs on a baking sheet or large plate and rub the spice mix generously over all sides. Let them rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Step 3 Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Step 4 Wrap the ribs tightly in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, set them on a sheet pan, and bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours until the rib bones easily pop out when you twist them.
  • Step 5 While the ribs cook, in a medium saucepan, combine the banana ketchup, soy sauce, remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar, garlic, wine, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, then set the sauce aside.
  • Step 6 When the ribs are done, remove them from the oven and switch the oven to broil.
  • Step 7 Unwrap the ribs and return them to the sheet pan. Brush them generously on all sides with the sauce and broil them for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble and caramelize.
  • Step 8 Cut the racks into individual ribs. If you have not done so already and serve immediately.

Here’s Nicole’s recipe for ChoriBurgers which are just exceptional…

Back to the Philippines for New York’s Best Burger! The Chori Burger

And here is the link to the story I wrote for Silversea’s Discover…


S.A.L.T. Kitchen: How Food Experts Are Championing the Philippines’ Traditional Cuisine

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