My curiosity behind the red noodle delight made me reach out to Nastasha Ali of Exploring Filipino Kitchens. Nastasha is a food writer, recipe developer and food tour guide based in Toronto. She also is an avid Filipino Food history and cookbook enthusiast. Episodes on her Filipino Food audio show can be found here https://www.exploringfilipinokitchens.com/episodes/
Here is my letter to Nastasha and her response below:
How are you? I’ve been thinking about the origins of Filipino Spaghetti. It is such an odd dish that has strayed far away from it’s Italian version. The thick tomato meat sauce is closer to American Spaghetti but it’s said that Filipino Spaghetti was patterned after Japanese Spaghetti Napolitan.
Of course I think, in true Pinoy fashion, we mixed all the spaghetti sauce recipes from different countries and turned it into our own Filipino Spaghetti. Even then, there isn’t one true recipe in the Philippines since some use banana ketchup when others don’t, and some even add evaporated milk or condensed milk!
Here are some thoughts/notes I gathered to try and trace the evolution of Filipino Spaghetti:
- The Japanese and Filipino recipes both use tomato ketchup.
- The Japanese version (Spaghetti Napolitan) was created by chef Shigetada Irie. He was inspired by US military food rations which was spaghetti mixed with tomato ketchup (Wikipedia)
- Spaghetti Napolitan (Japan) has no meat in it
- Neopolitan Ragu (Naples, Italy) is a tomato based sauce with cut slices of beef, usually served over pasta
- Banana Ketchup – it is said that this red colored banana sauce concoction began to replace the tomato based spaghetti sauce in World War II due to the lack of tomatoes during the war.
- Maria Oroso, the inventor of Banana Ketchup passed away in 1945 at 52 years old. I wonder if there was enough time to market the product during WWII (1941-1945)? It does make sense for banana ketchup to gradually gain popularity in the years after the war since it is sweeter, less tangy/tart, and more versatile.
Most of my info was gathered from The Origin of Filipino Spaghetti here
Some recipes use evaporated milk or condensed milk in the spaghetti sauce.
I’m shocked about the use of evaporated milk or condensed milk. I can’t even begin to trace when this odd (but delicious) ingredient was added in the sauce. Maybe it’s the lack of fresh cream in the Philippines?
The Possible Evolution of Filipino Spaghetti
Neopolitan/Italian Ragu = America = WWII US military food rations = Japanese Napolitan = Philippines = American Spaghetti Meat Sauce = Banana Ketchup = Sugar and Hotdogs = Evaporated Milk or Condensed Milk just because whoever he/she is in our Filipino Food History decided it was a good idea.
Here are my questions for you:
- What is your memory of Filipino Spaghetti?
- What are your thoughts or theories about the history of the dish?
- What do you think about the use of evaporated milk?
- Tomato Ketchup vs Banana Ketchup, what would you prefer and why?
- How would you modify the recipe to cater to a western palate while still staying true to it’s Filipino origin?
Thanks for your time and hope to meet you soon!
I’m sorry for the delay with this. Last week became a bit busier than I expected! Please find some thoughts below 🙂
1. What is your memory of Filipino Spaghetti?
2. What are your thoughts or theories about the history of the dish?
3. What do you think about the use of evaporated milk?
4. Tomato Ketchup vs Banana Ketchup, what would you prefer and why?
5. How would you modify the recipe to cater to a western palate while still staying true to it’s Filipino origin?
I hope this helps!
Thanks so much, Vanessa!
Filipino Spaghetti - a new recipe that's a delicious mix of sweet and tart flavors
- 2 tbsps oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions
- 1 1/2 minced Garlic
- 6 Hotdogs sliced diagonally
- 1 lb Ground Pork
- 1 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
- 1 1/2 cup Tomato Ketchup
- 1/4 cup Milk or Evaporated Milk
- 1-2 tsps Sugar according to taste
- Grated Cheese topping
- Add oil on low medium heat
- Add hotdogs and fry for 3 minutes then set aside
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute
- Add onions and cook until translucent and tender
- Add ground pork and cook until brown
- Add tomato sauce, tomato ketchup, and evaporated milk
- Mix sauce and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes
- Add hotdogs and simmer for 5 minutes
- Serve sauce over spaghetti noodles and top with grated cheese