Six years ago in Manila, I found myself at a child's birthday party grabbing one of every food being offered: fried chicken, spaghetti, and a San Miguel. At the end of the buffet table next to a full-sized image of Big Bird and the required karaoke machine, I had my first taste of Filipino spaghetti.
The meat sauce was laden with sugar and hot dogs—definitely not the spaghetti of my youth. It was no doubt kid's food but I couldn't help myself from really enjoying it, and went back for seconds to go with the remainder of my beer. Since then, whenever Filipino spaghetti appears at a family function, I semi-secretly gorge on it, having an odd attraction to the sweetness.
One of the major sweeteners in this tomato sauce is banana ketchup, which I had a surplus of thanks to last week's Sauced column. As I finished an oversized plate of the Filipino spaghetti, wieners and all, my wife couldn't believe I liked it so much—to her it's more of a nostalgic thing. But what can I say, it may be designed for the kids, but there's no shame in an adult loving this meaty, sweet tomato sauce too.
Filipino Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
- 1 pound ground beef or pork
- 5 hot dogs (preferably Oscar Meyer wieners), cut into 1/4” slices
- 1 cup banana ketchup
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup grated American or cheddar cheese, for serving
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add in onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add ground beef or pork and break up with wooden spoon. Cook until brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Stir in hot dogs, banana ketchup, tomato sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked spaghetti and top with grated American or cheddar cheese.