Filipino spaghetti

Filipino spaghetti

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

My brother and I loved eating in the Philippines when we were kids. We took comfort in the familiar American-influenced dishes, but got kicks out of the unexpected local ingredients used. It felt like an adventure out of Alice in Wonderland. Each time we would return, we would make requests for our favourites. Filipino spaghetti was top of the list for merienda (afternoon snack). My brother prized the sliced hot dog pieces; me, the banana catsup sauce.

Filipino spaghetti is sweet by design; admittedly, it is different, but it is part of the appeal. Don’t scrimp on cheese and use the best quality hot dogs you can find.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g minced pork
250g minced beef
685ml tomato passata
160g catsup
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
250ml beef stock or water
1 teaspoon salt flakes
350g spaghett
2 x 60g american-style skinless hot dogs, sliced on the diagonal
100g finely grated edam or mild cheddar cheese


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring until soft. Add the pork and beef, increase the heat to high, then cook for 6 minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon, until well browned. Add the passata, catsup, sugar, stock and salt, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low–medium and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, reserving 60 ml of the cooking water. Just before serving, return the pasta and reserved water to the pan and toss to combine.
  3. Add the hot dogs to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the hot dogs are warmed through and the sauce has slightly thickened (it should be slightly soupy; add 1⁄4 cup more stock or water if necessary). Season with salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat.
  4. Divide the pasta among bowls. Pour over the sauce, then top with cheese. Serve immediately.

Where does it come from?

  • ‘Filipino spaghetti’, as it is known, is a take on spaghetti bolognese. Early versions were close to the Italian original, but by the 1970s, it had already evolved to include local catsup, brown sugar, and affordable extenders of hot dogs. Some posit that sugar was added to balance the naturally sour native Filipino tomatoes; others believe it was inspired by the bolder styles found in increasingly popular American chain restaurants.
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