Spaghetti Napolitan

Spaghetti NapolitanSpaghetti Napolitan (or just Napolitan) is a totally made in Japan Yoshoku pasta dish.  It was actually invented by a Chef in Yokohama, my hubby’s hometown, right after World War II.  When I was a kid, growing up in Japan, I really didn’t like Napolitan even though it is one of the most popular kid dishes there even today.  I grew up with homemade everything and I liked my pasta with Mom’s homemade marinara or meat sauce not with ketchup.  Yes, most of the time Napolitan is made with just ketchup as the sauce.  I always thought that was pretty strange.  I only liked ketchup on hamburgers and french fries and didn’t want it in my pasta so I actually refused to eat Napolitan as a child.

The first time I finally brought myself to try Napolitan was at the Japanese coffee shop my husband and I frequented when we were dating and I was in my early 20’s.  The owner (or Mama) of the coffee shop served her Napolitan on a sizzling hot plate with a side of crunchy cabbage salad.  I used to see so many customers ordering her Napolitan every time we were there.  It always smelled so good that finally I just broke down one day and ordered it.  I was really glad I did.  When I took the first bite of Mama’s Napolitan I didn’t taste just ketchup but a deep, rich tomato flavor that tasted like homemade tomato sauce.  I asked her what was her secret and she told me she used ketchup but added her homemade Marinara sauce and a little white wine.  An adult version of the famous kid dish, brilliant!  I loved it so much I quickly went home and tried to recreate her Napolitan and was finally successful after a couple of tries.  This dish has now become very popular in our house and it’s easy to prepare in a short amount of time.  I use homemade marinara sauce but you can use your favorite jar of marinara sauce with great results.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti-Napolitan ingredientsPreparation:  4 servings

1/2 pound dry spaghetti
1/2 pound black forest ham, thinly sliced and chopped into 1-inch strips
1 medium sized green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6-8 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup good quality ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
1 cup homemade Marinara sauce (or your favorite prepared Marinara sauce)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

Prepare the spaghetti, while you’re cooking the other ingredients, in a large pot of salted water.  Cook the spaghetti al dente or so it still has a bite to it (about two minutes shorter than the normal cooking time).  Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.  You’ll be tossing this with the sauce later.

Spaghetti-Napolitan

Heat up a large fry pan or skillet with the butter and olive oil.  Sauté the onion until translucent, add the peppers and mushrooms and continue to sauté until soft.  Add the ham and sauté until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and let cook about a minute to let the alcohol burn off.  Add the marinara sauce and ketchup and toss to combine evenly.

Spaghetti-Napolitan

Drain the spaghetti, saving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss well to combine the sauce and spaghetti.  Slowly add the reserved pasta cooking water while you toss, this will thicken the sauce slightly.

Serve immediately with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Spaghetti Napolitan
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ pound dry spaghetti
  • ½ pound black forest ham, thinly sliced and chopped into 1-inch strips
  • 1 medium sized green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup good quality ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
  • 1 cup homemade Marinara sauce (or your favorite prepared Marinara sauce)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
Instructions
  1. Prepare the spaghetti, while you’re cooking the other ingredients, in a large pot of salted water.
  2. Cook the spaghetti al dente or so it still has a bite to it (about two minutes shorter than the normal cooking time). Save ½ cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You'll be tossing this with the sauce later.
  3. Heat up a large fry pan or skillet with the butter and olive oil. Sauté the onion until translucent, add the peppers and mushrooms and continue to sauté until soft.
  4. Add the ham and sauté until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and let cook about a minute to let the alcohol burn off.
  6. Add the marinara sauce and ketchup and toss to combine evenly.
  7. Drain the spaghetti, saving ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
  8. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss well to combine the sauce and spaghetti.
  9. Slowly add the reserved pasta cooking water while you toss, this will thicken the sauce slightly.
  10. Serve immediately with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

 

Comments

  1. I never tried this dish bc I thought it was kinda strange… What is it with japanese people and ketchup? I must confess I was addicted to omuraisu. I ate it at least 3 times a week 🙂

    • Haha same as me! I have now learned to love now that I make it my own way 🙂 I use homemade tomato sauce in my Omuraisu too, not as sweet as using just ketchup. Thank you for the comment!

  2. After I stop swooning and drooling, maybe I’ll come up with something intelligent to say…

  3. The sauce looks incredible yummy! I don’t know that we can use the pasta water to thicken the sauce. Learn something new from you (^.^)

    • Thank you Lia! Yes the pasta water is often used to thicken the sauce and make the sauce bind better with the pasta. I learned that from an Italian Chef I took cooking classes with years ago 🙂

  4. Mm, looks so yummy! However, I have never put or tried ketchup in spaghetti dishes. I’m thinking it must add a tangy flavour to the dish? I’m always surprised to learn about western dishes being so popular in asia. When I was a kid, I thought nothing of eating my spaghetti with chopsticks. : )

  5. Thank you for the comment Chantale! Yes the ketchup does add a tanginess to the sauce, you’ll have to make it for Keira 🙂

  6. I just made this for dinner tonight. It was SO good. The husband loved it too! I doubled the recipe, so will be eating delicious leftovers for days. Yay! 🙂

  7. Thank you for your sweet comment! I love it when people tell me how much they enjoyed a recipe. This is one of our favorites and I always make extra too. Love to warm it up in the oven with cheese on top the next day 🙂

  8. I’ve been using the “letoruto” napolitan package for years, but it’s about time I try to make the sauce from scratch. Thanks!

    • Thank you for your comment! Once you try the homemade version you’ll never go back. Enjoy!

      • Yes, you are right. I found making it from scratch easier in a way because I don’t need that extra pot to boil the letoruto package. I subsituted the white wine with cooking sake and it turned out fine. What a nice touch to delgaze the pan. I’m making my shopping list now and will take a look at your other recipes for ideas. Thanks for the blog!

  9. My husband loved this in an old Chinese restaurant in Utah. It was called Spanish chow mean with crispy noodles and minus mushrooms. The restaurant is now closed and I think I have replicated the recipe for him. Love it

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