|Alternative names||Sweet spaghetti|
|Place of origin||Philippines|
|Main ingredients||Spaghetti, tomato sauce, tomato paste, banana ketchup or brown sugar, giniling, hotdogs, cheese|
Filipino spaghetti, also known as sweet spaghetti, is a Filipino adaptation of the Italian spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. It has a distinctively sweet sauce, usually made from tomato sauce sweetened with brown sugar or banana ketchup. It is typically topped with sliced hotdogs or smoked longganisa sausages, giniling (ground meat), and grated cheese. It is regarded as a comfort food in Philippine cuisine. It is typically served in almost any special occasion, especially on children's birthdays.
The dish is believed to date back to the period between the 1940s and the 1960s. During the American Commonwealth Period, a shortage of tomato supplies in the Second World War forced the local development of the banana ketchup. Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce was introduced by the Americans and was tweaked to suit the local Filipino predilection for sweet dishes.
Filipino spaghetti is relatively cheap and easy to make, which is part of the reason for its popularity. First, minced garlic and onions are sautéed in oil in a large pan until they caramelize. The giniling (ground meat) is added and cooked until it is brown. The sliced hotdogs are then added, though it can be replaced with other processed meat like smoked longganisa sausages, ham, Vienna sausages, meatballs, luncheon meat, or even spam or corned beef. It is cooked further for a few minutes before the tomato sauce and tomato paste mixture is poured into the pan. Beef stock, mushroom soup, or evaporated milk may also be added. This is sweetened with a bit of banana ketchup or brown sugar, and spiced to taste with salt and black pepper. Other ways to sweeten it include using condensed milk, syrup, or even carbonated soft drinks. It is boiled until it reduces to the right consistency. Some people use store-bought spaghetti sauce as the base for convenience, which in the Philippines, may already be sold in Filipino-style flavors.
The spaghetti pasta are almost always store-bought. They are cooked usually to al dente consistency. They may be added directly to the sauce and pre-mixed, or served separately with a large amount of sauce poured over them. Grated or cubed cheese (usually cheddar) is added before serving, though sometimes the cheese is infused in the sauce or melted over the pasta.
The version is often regarded with alarm by Italian spaghetti purists. However, it has great cultural significance for Filipinos as a comfort food. It is almost always served at special occasions, especially on children's birthdays. As such, most Filipinos attach a nostalgic fondness to the dish.