Japanese Ketchup Spaghetti


“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”++++++++—Sophia Loren


Like Ms. Loren, I love spaghetti. And Japanese wafu (Western) spaghetti is too good to deprive my husband of the experience: Spaghetti Napolitan! During the U.S. occupation of Japan, this scrumptious dish became popular in restaurants all over the country. It is comfort food—a meal you’d eat because your mom made it for you. The predominate flavor comes from ketchup, a condiment with variations all over our earth: fruity, sweet, sour, and sometimes hot.
Yes, I do know that ketchup has been denigrated by many gourmands…

Ketchup spaghetti is popular the world over. Mr. Tess was working out of town when I made this last year but he enjoyed my posts and the discussions. This was his first taste. He seemed to enjoy the meal—there’s not much more to say! It’s an interesting topic which you can read by clicking on the picture links below.

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

  • 8 oz. dry spaghetti (cappellini or thin spaghetti)
  • 4 wiener sausages (hot dogs), sliced diagonally into ovals
  • 1 sweet red pepper (traditionally, a green bell pepper), roasted, skinned, and cut into strips
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced (oops: I forgot them!)
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • ½ medium onion, chopped finley
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup ketchup (Heinz)
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream (I used 3 Tablespoons of half and half)
  • several shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • minced parsley

Cook the spaghetti, in salted vigorously boiling water. Drain, but leave a little of the pasta water with the noodles. Mix with 1 Tablespoon butter. Keep warm.
Add 1 Tablespoon butter to a large skillet or heavy bottomed pot. 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 hot dogs, ketchup, and tomato sauce: let it get hot. Turn the heat to low, and add the cream. Stir. Then add the spaghetti. Stir to heat. Or serve the buttered spaghetti topped with the sauce. Garnish with the cheese and parsley.

Roasting the pepper:
Wash and quarter the pepper. Cut the stem off, and remove the seeds and white membranes. Place the pepper on a cookie sheet, skin side up. Broil until the skin blisters and blackens. Put the pepper quarters into a paper bag to cool. Slice or otherwise use in your recipe.

If you have left-over Spaghetti Napolitan, then consider taking it for lunch as a spaghetti sandwich—another popular snack in Japan.

or try spaghetti bread!!

5 thoughts on “Japanese Ketchup Spaghetti

  1. I love Japanese wafu spaghetti but I never knew it was this easy to make. I can totally imagine myself whipping this together for a quick weekday meal. Yum!

  2. Hi Stephanie,
    Yes! Check out how easy it is to make the other wafu spaghetti that is popular in Japan: mentaiko spaghetti. You can get frozen spicy pollack roe to have on hand—another yum!

  3. Hi Tess,

    Try putting your charred peppers in a plastic bag – not only does the steam loosen the skin, the bag retains the juices that inevitably leak from the peppers. SOP this side of the Atlantic.

    • That’s a good idea. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to remove the blackened skin from peppers and have found that cutting them into quarters first allows the skin to roast before much pepper-juice is released, ie the pepper itself stays a little to0 raw because the smaller flatter pieces blacken quickly. Even so, they do release some moisture.

      (the burt stuff on my cookie sheet is from roasting peppers whole in the past under the broiler—
      then I learned that cutting the peppers and using the gas stove burner worked better
      then we moved and the glass cook-top doesn’t work…
      so it’s back to the broiler again) (good thing I didn’t toss out the damaged cookie sheet)

  4. Pingback: Wake Food « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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