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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”.
Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com
Evyn Block (Mrs. Adam Sachs) Photo from evynblock.com

Last week, Andrew and I went to a wonderful party. It was Silversea’s celebration of S.A.L.T. and the immensely successful launch of Silversea’s extraordinary new Culinary program Sea And Land Taste.  It was a huge reunion of sorts, with most of the the press who were on board ship to test out the program last March.  It was held at the home of Evyn 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 in March.  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.

Nicole Ponseca
Marlo Gamora

The Star Chef at the event was the marvelous Nicole Ponseca.  I wrote all about Nicole in a previous post. And you should too.  (The link is below the recipe.).  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, title yet to be revealed.

It reached 94 degrees yesterday in Brooklyn but that didn’t stop Adam and Nicole from setting a big fire in the glorious indoor open oven in the kitchen.  They grilled meats there as wine was poured and laughter never subsided.  It was a heavenly party.  And for me one of the highlights was just to be in the same kitchen as Nicole.

Tricycle, Romblon Island, Philippines

Just this weekend, I had made Nicole’s recipe for Banana Ketchup Ribs.  Yes, Banana Ketchup or, like the label says “Banana Sauce”.  Throughout my visit to the Philippines, our local contacts pointed with pride to the adaptability and just plain inventiveness of Filipinos or ‘Pinoys’ as they refer to each other in their native Tagalog. We saw it in the making of their “Tricycles”—motor bikes that have ‘sidecars’ added and which are a primary method of transportation on Romblon Island, where my Silversea “Discover” story begins.

The US presence in the Philippines began with the end of the Spanish American War when 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. So Maria invented a condiment made from mashed bananas, sugar, vinegar and spices.  Its color was a brownish-yellow but it was dyed red to simulate tomato ketchup. I find it absolutely delicious. It’s sweeter than tomato ketchup.  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 on-line at https://www.filstop.com/filipino-groceries/

This recipe Nicole calls ‘an homage to American Southern-style, slow-cooked ribs’ revved up with Filipino flavors.  You don’t 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, which is often labelled “banana sauce”, is slathered on and the ribs go under the broiler for just minutes. Please put this on your summer barbecue rotation. Your guests will love you for it.  Here is the recipe:

Banana Ketchup Ribs

June 30, 2019
: 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 hours.
  • 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…


How Food Experts Are Championing the Philippines’ Traditional Cuisine

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