By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Haynayan Ketchup and Chili Asylum are two local sauce brands that look no further than the proverbial backyard when it comes to choosing ingredients to create their products.

According to Isi G. Laureano, the creator, owner, and only employee of the two sauce brands, the Philippines is home to a wide selection of fruits and vegetables that are available for consumption.

“Why use imported stuff? It’s more authentic if we use local ingredients from local producers and we can help promote [local products] all over the world,” she said.

Haynayan Ketchup is an all-natural ketchup sauce which she made spicy for an added kick.

Laureano uses locally sourced ketchup components such as tomatoes, chilis, onions, and garlic in making her signature blends of spicy ketchup sauces.

“I usually research and ask friends who are in the industry. I have farmer friends and culinary friends that are very generous in helping me out, [and] I help them out too,” she said.

Using crops in season

Laureano also experiments with seasonal crops in making some of the ketchup brands’ signature blends.

When they are in season, her sauces may include crops like radish, strawberry, pineapple, banana, and kamias. The other ingredients that she uses come from the provincial markets she frequently visits to find new products to create sauces with.

Haynayan Ketchup’s most popular products are the Spicy Diwata and Spicy Bathala series, which is composed of banana ketchup, ghost chili ketchup, radish ketchup, and pineapple ketchup.

Seasonal sampinit sauce 

One of Laureano’s ketchup sauces that depends largely on the season is the sampinit ketchup. It is made from an indigenous wild berry called “sampinit,” a local version of the raspberry that is sweet-tart tasting.

Its plant bears fruit as early as December and peak in the month of March. Around April, the number of sampinit fruits begin to decrease. Additionally, the sampinit plant grows like grass but prefers higher elevations, which is why it can be mostly found in the mountainous areas of Quezon Province and Laguna.

Since the fruits and vegetables aren’t available all-year round, the ketchup sauces that use these ingredients are only available for a limited period, or when the key fruits and vegetables are in season.

As for Chili Asylum, Laureano makes all-natural condiments such as pineapple habanero jam, chili chutney, spicy moringa pesto, and cornichons from hell, a spicy condiment made from small pickled cucumbers.

The sauce making process

Laureano’s interest in creating spicy ketchup sauces came from her love of cooking and being able to share what she makes in her kitchen.

In making Haynayan Ketchups’ and Chili Asylum’s products, Laureano keeps the stove busy by creating batches of the different flavored condiments at the same time. This results in a more time-efficient and energy-saving way of food making.

Laureano follows a common method in making sauces: cooking it on high heat to allow the ingredients to release their flavor, making the sauce fresh, and balancing the mix of all its components.

Spicy Diwata and Spicy Bathala series of spicy ketchup made with different key ingredients.

The challenging part in what Laureano does is that there’s no consistency in the supply of ingredients. She finds it hard to source at times, especially when it involves the transportation of products from other provinces.

Going au naturel

Laureano is proud that all her products are made from all-natural and locally sourced fruits and vegetables. She doesn’t use any imported or canned products in her kitchen.

Moreover, Laureano is not a fan of overprocessed products found in groceries, which is why her preservation techniques are also natural.

“Even the salt and vinegar that I use are all sourced locally. I can tell you straight where it’s from,” she said.

In using only fresh local produce, Laureano sees it as a way to both help the farmers in the Philippines, as well as helping the environment by lessening food waste.
“This is revolutionary. This is what we should be doing: tangkilikin ang sariling atin (patronize our own products); which has been our motto ever since on being a true Filipino,” she said.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2019 issue.