Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Homemade Ketchup

Weird?  I know not what you mean.
A guest post from my buddy John who writes the blog Those Darn Vegetarians:

Before I decided to disappoint my parents by becoming a vegetarian, I loved me some hamburgers...  in fact, some suspected it's the reason I moved to the LA:  a place known for burger joints.
And traffic.
And weirdos- but mostly for burger joints.

Before "making the switch", I'd made it my goal to find the best hamburgers the city had to offer.  I made an attempt some might describe as heroic- others as quixotic.  Before giving up meat (at least for now) I managed to eat at all but two of the burger establishments on my "must try" list (which immediately downgraded my list to a "should try" list).  Sadly,  Umami Burger  was one of the places I didn't try.  I was sure that the fifth taste would elude me forever.   

Then an old roommate called me up and invited me to join her for a bite at Umami.  I relegated myself to the mushroom-edamame Earth burger.  The burger was pretty tasty.  However, what really knocked my socks off was their homemade ketchup.
I wear silly clothes for money. Also, I love you.

Despite my love of burgers, I've never been one for the red stuff.  I mean, I'd eat it every now and again...  but it was just kind of there.  It was more of an obligation than a condiment.  Should I put ketchup on my fries?  I don't want to, but ketchup is right there and I don't want to hurt her feelings.  Fine.  I'll use it.
Umami's ketchup was different.  It had both a sweetness and a vinnegarosity I was unfamiliar with.  It was, quite simply, amazing. "Why don't I make my own ketchup?" I thought.
Why don't I?  

I do.

Yesterday, when I was walking through the farmer's market, I stumbled upon some beautiful tomatoes and decided to take them home- and this ketchup made me happy, happy man.
Sadly, this will not make much ketchup

  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds of tomatoes (the type of tomatoes is lady's choice), chopped
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
You will want to eat this.  You must wait.
Spray a heavy-bottomed saucepan with non-stick cooking spray (or use some olive oil) and add the ginger, garlic, chili, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.  Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.Add the basil leaves, then put the sauce in a food processor or mix it up real nice with a hand blender.  (I put mine in my blender, which I do not recommend because it obliterates the solid material instead of leaving sizable chunks...  making the next step tedious).  Strain the mixture with a sieve twice.  Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar.  No matter how much you stir it, it will look like it belongs on Dancing with the Stars.  Do not be put off!  It is delicious and very worth it.
NOT JR Martinez

Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.

You will NEVER, ever go back to store-bought ketchup again.  Ever.



  1. Nice, John. I will give this a try. I mean I'm all like, "Screw you, Heinz."

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