How many other foods have achieved the widespread popularity that ketchup has enjoyed for decades?
You know how some people just have mazel? It takes only a small stretch of imagination to realize that some condiments have mazel too. How many other foods have achieved the widespread popularity that ketchup has enjoyed for decades? However, while even the novice eater thinks he has plumbed its depths and mastered its uses, we've retained the services of a true connoisseur to shed light on some of its properties and myriad possibilities.
Unless otherwise clarified, the generic term “ketchup” refers to Heinz ketchup
Ketchup has its origins in the fermented fish sauce created in southern China (but that isn’t what we’re referring to when we discuss our modern day manna). Practically speaking, the ketchup we know and love burst onto the market close to 150 years ago when Henry John Heinz started selling his delicious tomato-based concoction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Ketchup scores high in all aspects of taste — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami, making it the most complete food item in terms of taste (save for all the food that my wife, mother, and mother-in-law make — gotta cover my bases and stay safe).
Magical taste qualities aside, ketchup also demonstrates amazing physical qualities. Ketchup is classified as a “non-Newtonian fluid,” meaning that a stronger force reduces viscosity. Any explanation that would provide actual understanding is beyond the scope of this article and would furthermore require the author to understand the concept at hand.
Ketchup as Hors D’oeuvre: Cheese-Wrapped Pickle Spread
Everyone loves a good crunchy savory snack, so when my in-laws unexpectedly popped in, I knew just what to give them.
- 4 slices American cheese
- 4 crunchy pickles
- Well-shaken ketchup
Lay out American cheese in a square starting in top right corner moving counterclockwise.
Lay a single pickle vertically on each square of cheese.
VERY IMPORTANT! Do not apply ketchup until ready to eat!
When your guest or patron is ready to eat, THEY wrap the cheese around pickle and drizzle ketchup down the length of pickle, using a technique similar to hot dog drizzling. (If you are unfamiliar with the technique, this recipe isn't for you.)
Ketchup as Preservative
SERVES ONE, BUT YOU CAN EASILY ADAPT FOR LARGER GROUPS WITH SIMPLE MATH
When going on long road trips, half the headache is planning what to eat and packing all the food. If you find schlepping coolers annoying, but still want a hearty and filling repast, this one’s for you!
- White bread
- American cheese
Lay out pieces of bread sandwich prep style.
Coat both halves of bread with ketchup (most important step!).
Place slice of American cheese on each slice of ketchup-slathered bread.
Close sandwich and place in bag.
The ketchup creates a seal that keeps the cheese from spoiling even when unrefrigerated. This is a tried-and-true method used by this writer on many occasions for up to seven days.
Ketchup as Gourmet Food
This recipe uses a pan-searing technique that helps lock in the flavor and juice of the delectable Wagyu meat, using ketchup to take it to the next level!
- Cast iron frying pan (ideal, but any oven-safe pan will do)
- 10 oz thick Wagyu steak
- ½ stick of margarine
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
Combine margarine, tarragon, rosemary and garlic into a thick paste and place in fridge.
Sprinkle salt and pepper on steak to taste.
Pan sear steak (actual technique beyond the scope of this article).
Finish cooking in oven at 415°F to preferred level of doneness.
Remove from oven, plate, and delicately spread margarine and spice mix on top of Wagyu steak.
Take pride in the delicacy that graces your plate! This is truly the apex of culinary expression!
Slather in ketchup and enjoy.
Not Just Food
Ketchup can add a lot to your skin care routine.
- Castor sugar
Combine equal parts ketchup and castor sugar and blend well.
Since castor sugar is less coarse than regular sugar, it can be used as a facial scrub even if you have sensitive skin. The antioxidants in ketchup help reduce inflammation, and the tomatoes are acidic which helps to exfoliate.
Just don’t try this magical elixir at home.
As a parent of young finicky eaters, I can attest that one of ketchup’s most notable qualities is its ability to turn old leftovers into an exciting new food — from cold Shabbos chicken to ketchup scooper, from day-old noodles to ketchup base, from soggy cold fish sticks to delectable dollop ketchup deliverer mechanism. Note: this little trick works on yeshivah bochurim as well.
Real chefs don’t cut corners. Buy brand-name ingredients for all the aforementioned recipes.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 784)
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