Spaghetti Napolitan

My husband doesn’t like ketchup very much. So, with J out of town, it’s my chance to make spaghetti Napolitan: spaghetti with ketchup sauce—hardly a typical Italian pasta dish. The recipe comes not from Naples but from Yokohama, Japan. Recipes include mushrooms, peppers, onions, hot dogs, tonkatsu sauce, and ketchup. Sometimes other kinds of sausages, slices of ham, or bacon are used instead of the hot dogs. Sometimes the sauce includes other vegetables such as Eggplant, D, Carrots, Broccoli, And so on.
[no dill, dates, daikon, dandelion, durian, nor dioscorea (yam)]

After World War II, the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama was used by GHQ—apparently there is a room where Douglas MacArthur stayed. The hotel must have cooked some Western-like food for GHQ, and a chef came up with the idea of making spaghetti with ketchup and other bits like ham and green pepper. Tomato sauce might originally be from the Italian city of Naples, and that explains the name, spaghetti napolitan. The recipe spread to ordinary restaurants, and has been popular as a light meal in kissaten (coffee shops), and in homes.

This blog is written by a fellow who eats napolitans almost everyday. He even considers the ancestors of napolitan today! Obsessive? But happy…

He was happily surprised when visiting Korea:
(sorry, poor computer-type translation, but you get the idea?)
“You do not have the chow mein stir-fried with ketchup?”
Ready to be happy ok! Thank you! Neapolitan moment the world is spread chow mein! Yakisoba + wood ear mushrooms + onions + carrots + + + The Neapolitan sprouts shrimp chow mein. Universal form of stability is excellent.

From what I read, it seems that the Japanese consider ketchup a very healthy food, as more of an ingredient than a condiment.

While Heinz is instantly identified in North America with ketchup, camping & backyard barbecues, the brand image of Heinz in Japan is associated with cold nights & cozy families. Why the difference? Because for the Japanese consumer, Heinz is identified with its demi-glace (for beef stew) & white sauce (for casserole), both dishesperceived as comfort food. Even now, after so many years, I have memories of eating casserole around the family table, feeling warmly secure against the cold and darkness outside. So their brand is tied to the concept of “high quality homey comfort food.”

There was a time in the U.S. when ketchup, or catsup, was considered a vegetable by the United States Department of Agriculture. The lasting legacy of that is the spelling of the word ketchup has been standardized among major U.S. food companies.

Ketchup or Catsup?
When Heinz introduced commercial ketchup to American kitchens it became so popular that other manufacturers rushed to catch-up to the ketchup craze. Soon there were Ketchup, Catsup, Catchup, Katsup, Catsip, Cotsup, Kotchup, Kitsip, Catsoup, Katshoup, Katsock, Cackchop, Cornchop, Cotpock, Kotpock, Kutpuck, Kutchpuck and Cutchpuck. All were tomato based and bottled and vied to become a household word. Only 3 major brands remained to steal the spotlight…Heinz Ketchup, Del Monte Catsup, and Hunts, who could not decide on a spelling and bottled under the names Hunts Catsup (east of the Mississippi), Hunts Ketchup (west of the Mississippi), and Hunts Tomato Cornchops (in Iowa only). In the 1980’s ketchup was declared a vegetable by the government for school lunch menus. Suddenly Del Monte’s Catsup, because of its spelling, was not on the approved list. Shortly afterward Del Monte changed the product’s name to Del Monte Ketchup. So ketchup it is.

“Ketchup” was historically a general term for “sauce” originating in Eastern Asia that was made from mushrooms or fish brine with herbs and spices – it contained no tomatoes. The word “ketchup” is derived from the Chinese Indonesian please read this very informative correction in the comments “kecap manis” – which roughly translated means the brine of pickled fish or shellfish. (As you can see, there is some dispute about the origin of the word.) The original sauce more closely resembled Soy or Worcestershire sauce. I’m not sure if tomato ketchup was used in Japan before the war, but I found an article indicating that tomatoes were grown commercially.

Ichitaro Kanie, Kagome’s founder, first succeeded in cultivating tomatoes in Japan in 1899. His success led to the formation of Kagome Co., Ltd. of Japan (Kagome Japan.) From Kanie-san’s humble tomato garden has grown a company that is now the largest producer of tomato products in Japan. And no longer just a tomato company, Kagome Japan has expanded its product line to include a range of fruit and vegetable products, beverages, microwavable meals, and pro-biotic drinks, all of which follow the company’s mission to provide foods that are close to nature.

And this article from a newspaper about some Japanese people living in New Zealand: (text version)

The Bruce Herald was published at Milton from 1864 to 1971. It was one of New Zealand’s longest running country newspapers.
…Dinner is served under the name of Shiroo-Meshi at one o’clock, and consists of a goodly variety of dishes, from boiled rice to broiled fish served with ketchup or soy. …

Spaghetti Napolitan
Japanese version of Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce
serves 2-3

  • 6 oz. dry spaghetti (cappellini or thin spaghetti)
  • 4 wiener sausages (hot dogs)
  • 1 large sweet pepper (I used ½ pablano and ½ cubano peppers)
  • 6 button mushrooms
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • ½ medium onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup ketchup (Heinz)
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream (I used 3 Tablespoons of half and half)

Cook the spaghetti, in salted vigorously boiled water. For a more authentic Japanese version boil the pasta a bit softer than al denté. But if you are planning to microwave some of this for lunch, then don’t overcook, Microwave re-heating is no friend to pasta!
Drain, but leave a little of the pasta water with the noodles. Mix with 1 Tablespoon butter. Keep warm by covering the pot.
Slice the hot dogs diagonally into oval pieces.
Cut the pepper into ¼-inch by 2-inch pieces.
Slice the mushrooms.
Chop the onion medium fine.
Add 1 Tablespoon butter to a large skillet or heavy bottomed pot. Or a wok. When the butter melts over medium heat, add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the peppers. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir and fry until they are soft. Add the ketchup and let it get hot. (If the sauce seems thick (or ungenerous), add a spoonful of water.) Turn the heat to low, and add the cream. Stir. Then add the spaghetti. Stir to heat.
Note that I put the sauce on top of the plain noodles in my pictures. That was because I planned to have a bonus lunch from this cooking-for-one makes 2 recipe. For my lunch I mixed sauce and spaghetti together. The pasta got softer, and the flavors blended.

Also note that I personally did not like this recipe. I HATE green peppers…
otherwise, I’d say you should try this!!!

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Golden Kimizu Sauce The Japanese are not the only ones eating ketchup on spaghetti!

18 thoughts on “Spaghetti Napolitan

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Spaghetti Napolitan « Tess's Japanese Kitchen --

  2. It’s “Grand”, not “Ground” Hotel.

    As for the modification of western foods, you should try a few trips through their 7-Elevens or Lawson’s.

    Ketchup, it’s not just for for omuraisu!

    • Oops! Splendid typist, me!

      Whenever we travel, I like to go into “normal” stores where people shop regularly: grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, dollar-stores, bodegas, and places like 7-Elevens… Neighborhood restaurants are also interesting.

      If I ever go to Japan, I’m sure to spend time in some konbini!

  3. Hi!
    I agree with you. I love to browse in a local supermarket when I visit foreign countries rather than the tax-free souvenirs store. Konbinis are interesting, but I recommend you ‘100-kin shop/ dollar-dtores? ‘. I sometimes stop by there, thinking just browsing, but always end up getting a few stuffs!
    I love Ketshup!

    • Hi naoko!

      Ah. We have $1.00 stores here in the U.S. but they don’t have such nice things for sale as the 100-yen shops in Japan. But I am only imagining how 100-yen shops are in Japan!

      But I always find things which I “need.”

      (Sorry. I was not ignoring you: somehow WordPress put your comment into spam.)

  4. Kecap manis is definintely not chinese, it’s Indonesian – it’s an extremely sweet, syrupy version of soy sauce. The fish sauce is called Kecap Ikan. Kecap is a general term in Bahasa Indonesia which covers most fermented sauces, but by itself would usually be understood to mean soy sauce.

    The word kecap is pronounced in a very similar way to ketchup (c is pronounced “ch” in Bahasa Indonesia). The Malaysian term is also very similar (Kicap) so the term could have come from there too (both languages are based on old Malay).

    When the word “Kecap” is used in other asian countries, it is usually to describe an Indonsesian style sweet soy sauce, although if spoken it might be interpreted as western style ketchup (due to similarity of pronunciation). The confusion over whether this is a chinese term may arise from its use in countries like Singapore, which is a melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Western & Indian cultures.

    • OK, this got me googling, and I discovered that what you said about it being a Chinese invention might be correct – it’s just the name that wasn’t. The original Chinese sauce was probably called ketsiap or koe-chiap & was essentially a fish sauce, which then spread quickly to the Malay culture (covering modern day Malaysia, Indonseia, the Phillipines & the islands nearby) and was taken up as their own. The British had strong trade links with this part of the world & brought back “ketchup” with them (probably via the Malay links rather than directly from China, the clue being the fact that the western pronunciation is closer to the Malay word than the Chinese one, as well as the fact that early references to ketchup describe it as being an “East Inidan” sauce – the East Indies sometimes refering to the whole of southeast asia, but usually more specifically to the Malay Archipelago).

      Over in the UK we still have “ketchups” that are more like the original version of ketchup, the most common one being mushroom ketchup (vaguely similar to Worcester sauce) – most other “ketchups” have been lost in the mists of time, but apparently they were made with all kinds of different ingredients. The now familiar tomato version was just one of many variations containing different types of fruit, and was probably invented in the US by British settlers attempting to recreate ketchup using local ingredients. Tomato ketchup would have originally been a much thinner sauce, more like the other types of ketchup; it was Heinz that introduced the thicker version that we know today.

      • There certainly is a lot of confusion about these kinds of condiments because they seem to “travel” with the traders and immigrants who then make their own adaptations to them. The Dutch have strong culinary ties to Indonesia as well. Another interesting topic. My sister-in-law lived in Holland for a couple of years and she talked about some of the meals she had there.

        Considering different fruits that were used for ketchup, yes, of course! Why not? I wonder about pomegranate—doesn’t that sound good? I’ve used pomegranate syrup in Middle Eastern dishes and it’s so delicious.

        I would love to try mushroom ketchup! A big new Indian grocery just opened near-by. Might be worth checking to see if they carry British foods…

        Thank you so much for your information!

      • so now you have me googling!

        The pictures links to this post:

        A ketchup recipe in ‘The complete Housewife,’ published in 1727, called for anchovies, shallots, vinegar, white wine, sweet spices (cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg), pepper, and lemon peel! A tomato was finally popped into the mix in about 1801.

  5. Pingback: The Japanese are not the only ones eating ketchup on spaghetti! « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

  6. Pingback: Japanese Ketchup Spaghetti « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

  7. Pingback: myfilipinokitchen » Blog Archive » That thin “spaghetti” strand that separates Japanese and American Influence in Filipino Food

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  10. dis isnt even good ffs
    i mean im italian and dis is kinda like shit, we dun use ketchap we use real tomato sauce
    murica got full retard

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