“Why is it sweet?” Dennis asked with a puzzled look in his eyes.  “And why is there hot dog in the sauce?”

It was his first plate of Filipino-style spaghetti and I couldn’t tell right off the bat if he liked it or not. He didn’t give a look of curious fascination nor a look of what-on-earth-are-you-feeding-me either, like when he tried halo-halo for the first time. He got a kick out of mixing everything together into one big delicious hodgepodge of sweets but he tediously picked the sweet adzuki and kidney beans out of the bowl because he thought they tasted a bit strange. Dennis is no picky eater. In fact, his adventurous palate is one the many things I love about him.

“So why did you think it tasted strange? ” I curiously asked. “I guess, I grew up enjoying beans in bowls of savory chili and never sweetened in sugar,” he replied.

He picked up his fork, took another bite from his plate of sweet spaghetti, and furrowed his brow once more.  I always get that furrowed brow whenever I introduce Filipino-style spaghetti to anyone who has never tried it. It has a tomato-based meat sauce, like the Italian Bolognese and the American-style spaghetti sauce, but the Filipino version is sweetened with banana ketchup — the infamous Filipino ketchup made with mashed bananas, sugar, vinegar and spices.  To make it even more uniquely Filipino, the sauce is lavished with slices of hot dog.


Spaghetti Sauce with Banana Ketchup and Hotdogs



The sweet spaghetti sauce is typically ladled over noodles but I’ve always loved how my mom mixes everything together — noodles, spaghetti sauce and lots of grated cheddar cheese — in her kawali, a big pan. She would serve her spaghetti with freshly baked pan de sal that she buttered with no restraint. And for leftovers, my mom would always make pan de sal pizza — a treat that’s always a hit with her grandkids. She would spread the sweet spaghetti sauce on sliced rolls, top them with grated cheese, and toast them for a few minutes in her tiny toaster oven until the cheese melts and bubbles.

“I think the sweetness is growing on me,” Dennis said the other day when I made pan de sal pizza. “It reminds me a lot about Sloppy Joe.” Sometimes, all it takes is to make something that seems foreign a little more familiar.


Making Filipino-Style Spaghetti Sauce, makes six servings of spaghetti or 12 servings of pan de sal pizza

1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 lb ground 85% lean grass-fed beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup banana ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb hot dog, thinly sliced
parmesan cheese, grated
parsley, finely chopped

1 lb spaghetti or 12 pieces of pan de sal

Sauté garlic and onions in oil in a large pan over medium to high heat. Brown the beef in the pan then add the tomato sauce, water, banana ketchup and brown sugar. Let the sauce simmer over medium to low heat until it thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the hotdog slices and continue to cook until they are heated through.

Ladle over spaghetti noodles or spread over sliced pan de sal. Garnish with lots of grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Cooking Notes:

1. My mom likes to mix ground beef and pork in making her spaghetti sauce but you can cook with either one. She also likes to add slices of ham and bacon.

2. Adjust the sweetness of the sauce to your liking by using more or less brown sugar.

3. You can find banana ketchup in most Asian grocery stores in the Filipino aisle. Jufran is my brand of choice.

4. 4505 Meats has the tastiest hot dogs in the city. If you live in the Bay Area and you haven’t tried Ryan Farr’s zilla-style hot dog with chicharrones at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market then you’re clearly missing out.


Pan de sal Pizza Recipe

  • http://twitter.com/thedailypalette The Daily Palette

    You make the most perfect pan de sal (and everything else for that matter)! One of the reasons why I love black tomatoes: they are less tart. Really on the sweeter side…perfect for Filipino-Style Spaghetti! Mixing everything in the kawali is the way to go! Oh, I love your mom!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://thenovicenosher.com Lisa

    Ahhh I love it! I’ve always wanted to know how to make Filipino-style spaghetti. My Filipino mother actually learned to make a very traditional spaghetti from my godfather’s Italian mother, so I grew up eating that. But I love the sweetness of Filipino spaghetti. I’m going to raise my future kids on both now!

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  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com ElizabethQ

    Jun, thanks for sharing this! The spaghetti sauce brings back memories. And the Pizza Pan de Sal is something new. Will definitely try this one!

  • @kitchenkwento

    Thanks for sharing! This reminds me of when I tried to make a more traditional spaghetti for my fam in Manila. I had brought olive oil, tomatoes and other ingredients to make sauce from scratch. Right before serving, my cousin tasted my sauce then proceeded to pour in at least 1/2 cup of sugar to correct it. ‘If you’re Filipino, you like spaghetti sweet,’ she said. Schooled!

  • http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/ Whisk Kid

    This sounds like a very interesting dish. I’ll have to keep an eye out for banana ketchup – I’d love to try it!

    I always appreciate people who will try anything. Kudos to Dennis!

  • Jean

    I love my mom’s filipino-style spaghetti. It’s not too sweet, just right. In fact, I just mentioned it to her a few weeks ago since I’m sure it’s been years since she’s made it last. Yours looks yummy, too, Jun. I think it’s pretty cool that you got Dennis to eat it and more importantly, actually like it! Great job! :-)

  • Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    Jun – coming from a family that puts ketchup on their macaroni and cheese, I so have to try this! Great post and photos. Will have to meet you guys for one of those 4505 hot dogs at the Ferry building one of these days…

  • Authenticsuburbangourmet

    Jun – this sounds absolutely delish! My husband would love that banana ketchup – he adores spicy along with unique ketchups. I am going to try making this!!! Any great places you can recommend that have the banana ketchup?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Lisa. There’s a Ranch 99 — an Asian grocery store chain — in Concord. I think that’s the closes to you in Walnut Creek. Ranch 99 would have banana ketchup. Get the Jufran brand. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

  • http://twitter.com/missTdJ Trina

    Wow, Jun. You went there. *giggles with childish laughter* Now all I need is pastel-rainbow-swirled bread & pimiento cheese sandwiches for the 8 year old in me to be satisfied!

  • http://twitter.com/StephRussell26 Stephanie Russell

    How very awesome! I am totally going to make these as an appetizer soon! Loving how unique this is, but also the wonderful flavors. And I’ve never tried banana ketchup — must buy now! :-p Thanks for sharing, Jun!

  • Anonymous

    wait, i can make pan de sal at home? that would be fun to try, but of course the local bakery where i can get pan de sal sells them for something like 6 for $1.25, and when they’re not sold out, they’re usually still warm from the oven, so i’m a little spoiled.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    WOW! I’m jealous. Your local bakery in NYC has pan de sal? I need to drive 20 minutes south of San Francisco to get fresh, hot pandesal! That’s why I make it at home. You are spoiled! :-)

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised by that. But the NYC area has pockets of every population imaginable. I just happen to live close to a Filipino one. This is the place I was referring to:


  • Heather in SF

    I’m dipping my spoon into a huge bowl of ramen which normally makes me ridiculously happy but now I’m feeling bereft and am wishing I was eating these!

  • http://twitter.com/gourmandeinthek Sylvie

    Banana ketchup! Oh my that does sound a bit strange, but I guess a lot of cultural foods must seem strange to other people at least Dennis is the adventurous type and is willing to give it a try!

  • http://thislittlepiggywenttothemarket.blogspot.com/ Lala

    i barely passed the 2nd paragraph of this post and i already snorted laughter through my nose. hahaha seems to be a universal reaction to our spaghetti.

    when i was younger, my ma would make ‘pizza’ doing this exact trick. leftovers put together for the kids and adults alike.

    thank you for this post, as it made me miss my ma and reminded me to call home :)

  • http://twitter.com/aishajam aishajam

    That looks absolutely yummmmm….. lovely presentation of the food !
    please do visit n follow my blog if you wish to at http://kitchensojourn.blogspot.com :)

  • Jun

    Maybe I’ll furrow my brows over this. And get addicted. Because it looks delicious. And very inviting.

  • Anonymous

    I have to tell you- I am SO EXCITED that I found your blog! I’m not sure how often you cook Filipino style food (I am a new reader) but I have three recently adopted Filipino siblings and we are always looking for new Filipino foods to try. So far, we’ve made Biko and Pancit…. but it will be great to have another recipe source!! Yay!!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Wow! I’m so excited, too that you’ve found my blog. I’ve been doing more Filipino recipes recently and I’d be thrilled if you’d try them out. Please come back soon! Thank you!

  • http://www.magicmelt.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=56 Ensaymada

    wow its quiet unique. From the idea of making pan de sal pizza up to the finished product, its is really amazing.

  • Louiseburgos

    All thumbs up, uncle jun! :)

  • Marie San Juan Hernandez

    jun im just wondering if you came from Ilocos region? My mother’s surname is also Belen from Naguilyan, San Fernando, La Union.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Hello Marie, My family’s from Laguna.  My dad’s from Pagsanjan and my mom’s from Biñan.  La Union? I have sweet memories of the beaches in La Union. Beautiful beaches.

  • Shawn

    My wife is a native born filipina from San Pedro, Laguna.  We have been married for 7 years and just finally last week she decided to make pan de sal for me.  I gotta say, it is the best bread I have ever had!  My 5 year old loves it too.  He eats it all day.  He also loves pizza rolls and those lunchable pizzas.  This is going to be a smash hit!  I cant believe I didnt think of pan de sal pizza.  Thank you so much for sharing!

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  • Anonymous

    Hey Jun – Never had filipino-style spaghetti sauce until last night. Kids (and I) loved it!