6.26.10 Condimental: Playing Ketchup
I love all the trappings of an American summer barbecue—pickles, ketchup, chips, mayonnaise. But now that I've become so conscious of what goes into the industrialized versions of these classics, I will never set out a bottle of Heinz again. It's loaded with high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, salt and "natural flavoring," which could easily mean MSG. So sad, considering the origins of this wonderful tomato condiment. The word "ketchup" (also "catsup") derives from the Chinese ke-tsiap for pickled-fish sauce, a widespread condiment since ancient times. (See here for my reference to its Roman origins.) The English added mushrooms, nuts and even oysters to it; the Americans added tomatoes from Mexico. So ketchup was originally a lacto-fermented sauce, full of nutrition, enzymes and good bacteria, and not the sugar-laden, heat-processed junk we consume to the tune of half a billion bottles annually. Guess where I'm going with all this? Straight to making our own ketchup. It's easy, really good and keeps in the fridge just like your Heinz. But plopping it on your kids' burgers won't send their blood sugar through the roof or rot their teeth. You can also modify this ketchup to suit your own tastes: add a little curry, or a couple of minced jalapeños, or some toasted, ground fennel seeds. The basic recipe tastes pretty close to the bottled stuff, though it's a little funkier, more complex in a palate-pleasing, umami way.
KETCHUPfrom Nourishing Traditions (of course)makes 1 quart3 cups canned organic tomato paste1/4 cup whey (or 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar)1 tablespoon sea salt1/2 cup maple syrup (grade B)1/4-1/2 teaspoon spicy pimentón (or cayenne), to taste3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed1/2 cup fermented fish sauce (available in Asian markets as nước mắm or nam pla)Mix all ingredients until well blended. Place in a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar. The top of the ketchup should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days, and then transfer to the refrigerator for storage.I confess to a weakness for Russian dressing on my burgers. It's also delicious on an avocado stuffed with shrimp. This probably betrays my California roots, and all those crab Louies (sic) I ate at Gilda's seafood restaurant on the wharf in Santa Cruz where I had my first job as a hostess. I love making it with my own homemade mayonnaise and ketchup...RUSSIAN DRESSING1/2 cup mayonnaise1/3 cup ketchup1 tablespoon raw cider vinegar1 tablespoon grated onion1 tablespoon chopped parsley1 tablespoon chopped tarragon1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceMix all the ingredients together and chill well.