Ketchup's Origin

Ketchup's Origin


Ketchup comes from the Hokkien Chinese word, kê-tsiap, the name of a sauce derived from fermented fish.


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Ketchup comes from the Hokkien Chinese word, kê-tsiap, the name of a sauce derived from fermented fish. It is believed that traders brought fish sauce from Vietnam to southeastern China.

The British likely encountered ketchup in Southeast Asia, returned home, and tried to replicate the fermented dark sauce. But this was certainly not the ketchup we would recognize today. Most British recipes called for ingredients like mushrooms, walnuts, oysters, or anchovies in an effort to reproduce the savory tastes first encountered in Asia.

The first known published tomato ketchup recipe appeared in 1812, written by scientist and horticulturalist, James Mease, who referred to tomatoes as "love apples." His recipe contained tomato pulp, spices, and brandy but lacked vinegar and sugar.


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