Dec 13, 2019

Japanese Pasta Recipe Napolitan (ナポリタン)

Not quite Italian, more so American. 

Napolitan, a pasta dish created by a Japanese chef Shigetada Irie (入江茂忠) in Yokohama after World War II. As a head chef at the New Grand Hotel, chef Shigetada Irie was trying to create a dish for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, so he took the idea from the rations at that time, spaghetti with ketchup, revamped the pasta as we know today - Napolitan.

Chef didn't use ketchup but incorporated a finer option tomato puree for the General. However, tomato puree was scarce at that time, that's why a much more affordable ketchup came into the picture. 

On top of the sauce modification, the texture of the pasta was also different from what we're used to as "al dente." It has a softer bite to suit the Japanese preference. By the way, The New Grand Hotel still serves the same Napolitan today if you want a taste of history.

Japanese Pasta Napolitan (ナポリタン) -

Ingredients (for 5 to 6 portions)?

  • 1 pack/500 grams spaghetti
  • 400 grams mini/shorter-length wiener sausages
  • 2 small/medium green bell peppers
  • 20 button mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup ketchup (I used Kagome brand)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some salt
  • Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Some parsley


Peel and thinly slice the onion. Trim the button mushrooms and halve the bigger ones. Peel and grate the garlic cloves. Finely chop the parsley. Destem and remove the seeds from bell peppers, slice into ring-shape or strips. 

Run a few cuts on the wiener sausages but not slicing all the way through.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add in few pinches of salt. Cook the pasta till al dente. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use. The pasta will continue to cook with the sauce to reach a softer bite.

Use a big pan, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium high heat. Add in onion slices along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent.

Add in wiener sausages and cook for about one minute.

Add in bell pepper and button mushrooms, mix and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add in ketchup, grated garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Mix first then add in drained pasta. Mix again till all the pasta has been coated with the sauce. Cook till the pasta reaches desired texture, should be no more than couple minutes.

Plate and grate some Parmigiano Reggiano, also sprinkle some chopped parsley to further brighten up the flavor.

I used Japanese brand Kagome for the ketchup, it's not as thick as Heinz and taste a little more sourish per my opinion, which fits well with this Japanese inspired pasta dish. If need  more kicks, bring on the Tabasco sauce! 

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