UPDATE: Check out my Filipino Spaghetti 2.0 post for another version of this dish)
Filipinos love spaghetti…so much so that it’s a staple at fast-food restaurants in the Philippines, including American franchises like KFC and Wendy’s. The Philippines biggest fast-food chain, Jollibee, offers burgers, fried chicken and spaghetti under one roof, and lucky for me, there’s a bunch of them here in California.
Filipino spaghetti is sweeter than a traditional Italian spaghetti, usually from the addition of sugar or banana ketchup to the sauce. It’s other defining characteristic is hot dogs, which sounds weird to non-Pinoys, but it acts as a salty counterpoint to the sweet sauce. (I always knew there was a reason I was partial to Spaghetti O’s with Sliced Franks when I was a kid.)
I generally freestyle my spaghetti, but I always start with a plain sauce (like canned Hunt’s or Del Monte) to use as a base since other ingredients are going to be added. A friend who makes her own excellent version of Filipino spaghetti swears by Prego. I prefer using sugar as a sweetener instead of banana ketchup since it’s something I always have on hand.
You can use almost any brand of hot dogs, but in the interest of “health,” I opted for 97% fat-free Hebrew National Beef Franks (45 calories per hot dog v. 200+ calories for a “regular” hot dog). If you really want to make it authentic, you can get the atomic-red hot dogs they sell at the Filipino or Asian supermarkets.
1 lb. package of spaghetti
½ pound of ground beef
4 hot dogs, sliced cross-wise, about ¼-inch thick
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
grated cheese (at least ¼ cup)
sugar (to taste)
- In a large pan or wok, heat a couple tablespoons of oil.
- When the oil is hot, add garlic to the pan and let it cook in the oil for about 30 seconds.
- Add four (4) sliced hot dogs and cook until the edges start to get crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add chopped onions to the pan and cook until they just start to brown
- Add approximately ½ pound ground beef to the pan and cook until brown.
- Return hot dogs to the pan and add the entire can/jar of spaghetti sauce.
- Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After a couple of minutes, stir one tablespoon of sugar into the sauce. Let it simmer for a minute before tasting and adjusting.
- After 15 minutes, add approximately ¼ cup of grated cheese to the sauce. I had parmagiano reggiano on hand, so I used that, but cheddar is commonly used.
- In a stock pot, boil enough salted water to cook a 1 lb. package of spaghetti. Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package.
- When the sauce is ready, mix about ¾ of the sauce with the cooked spaghetti, reserving the rest of the sauce to top each serving when plated.
- After the spaghetti is mixed thoroughly, you can grate more cheese to top the spaghetti before serving, if desired.
This recipe is far from being the definitive version of Filipino spaghetti…this is just how I like to make it. Feel free to make your own adjustments…but don’t forget the hot dogs! :)