A yoshoku, or Western-style dish, ketchup spaghetti, or Napolitan, was invented in 1945 by Shigetada Irie, head chef of Hotel New Grand in Yokohama, to please Gen. Douglas MacArthur who occupied the hotel as his headquarters and, later, as residence for American military officers.
The original Napolitan had canned tomato puree for its sauce and bacon for the meat. As it evolved over the years and adapted for Japanese home cooking, ketchup and sliced sausages, both cheaper than tomato puree and bacon, became standard ingredients.
I used Italian-style garlic and pepper sausages which are quite salty and sufficiently peppery so there was no need to add salt and pepper to the sauce. If using fresh bell pepper, saute it together with the sliced onion and chopped garlic.
Japanese Ketchup Spaghetti
- 180 grams spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
- 300 grams sausages NOT canned, thinly sliced
- 1 large bell pepper julienned (I used canned)
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- Dump the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water.
- Cook past the al dente stage, drain, rinse in cold water and drain again.
- In a wok or frying pan, melt the butter.
- Saute the sliced onion and chopped garlic until softened.
- Add the sliced sausages and bell pepper, and cook, stirring, for a minute.
- Sprinkle in the sugar and pour in the ketchup, Worcester sauce, milk and half of the Parmesan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce us bubbly.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss to coat the noodles evenly.
- Sprinkle in the rest of the Parmesan and toss once more.
- Taste the ketchup spaghetti. Depending on the saltiness of the sausages, you may want to add more salt. Or you may want to sprinkle in a bit more sugar for balance.