A quarter before four. The digits on the clock’s face glowed by my bedside. Something woke me up — a dream, a sudden chill in the room — I couldn’t remember but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I was tired but helplessly awake. A million things raced through my mind. A million what to dos and what ifs. A million worries consumed me.

I slipped out of our bed as quietly as I could. The patter of little feet trailed behind me. The orange glow of the lamp post outside peered through the windows. I had planned to get up early that morning to write before I head out to work but I was too distracted to even sit still at my desk.

I poured myself a cup of coffee then ravaged through the fridge for something to eat. One percent milk. Swiss cheese. A cartonful of brown eggs from the girls. Cold rice. Sriracha. Then I spotted the spaghetti leftover from a few nights before. I was euphoric. I fired up the stove and, soon, the cold noodles hissed in the hot pan, breaking the silence of the early morning. I tossed them a few times with a quick thrust of the pan then hurriedly transferred them to a plate. The noodles were exactly what I needed. It must be the sweet sauce. A sweetness so familiar, so comforting. It must be the thick wedges of hot dog. It must be the memories of home. I sandwiched spoonfuls of sweet spaghetti in between a piece of pan de sal and savored every bite.

Everything will work out, I reminded myself. It always does.


Filipino-Style Spaghetti with Meatballs Recipe, makes six servings

For the meatballs

1/2 lb ground 85% lean beef
1/2 lb ground pork
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

For the spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb hot dog, thinly sliced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup banana ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

cooked spaghetti noodles
parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated
parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Season the ground beef and ground pork with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Grate the onion with a large-hole or coarse grater or chop it very finely. Measure about 1/3 cup grated onion.

Combine ground beef, ground pork, onions, and the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix them with your hands gently but thoroughly. Be careful not to mix them too much because doing so will make the meatballs tough. Fry a small pinch in a pan and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Gently roll into golf-ball-size meatballs by hand, about one and a half inches in diameter.

Bake the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet until just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium to high heat. Add hotdogs and fry them until lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, banana ketchup, water, brown sugar, and meatballs. Let the sauce simmer over medium to low heat until it thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add cooked spaghetti noodles in the pan. Stir until the noodles are completely dressed with the sauce. Serve in bowls with cheese and chopped parsley.


Spaghetti with Meatballs


Kulinarya-Cooking-Club How to Make Filipino-Style Spaghetti with Meatballs is Jun-blog’s entry to this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club, a friendly group of Filipino food lovers from all around the world. Each month the club assigns a theme to showcase a new Filipino dish. For the month of October, the challenge was to make spaghetti, Filipino-style.

  • Lulu

    OK . . . for once I’ll try to make my own sauce and will not use the bottled pasta sauce from Mezzetta (or Ragu)! LOL! Same with the meatballs . . I will do the spaghetti with meat balls all from scratch. I guess because of the banana ketchup and the brown sugar it will be “sweet” . . . which is so typical of our Filipino style spaghetti. ;-)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/vijitha.shyam Vijitha Shyam

    I have been eating pasta with meat balls for the last three days and I see a post about it here. Looks so delicious. I need to try your version soon. Neat pictures as always.

  • samantha

    ahhh! Spaghetti with hot dogs always put a smile on my face as a little girl and I still count it as one of my favorite comfort foods! Thanks for the post and recipe. My mom always sprinkled sugar in the tomato sauce but I’m going to try the banana ketchup for my next batch!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cjuricich Chris Juricich

    Ah. I am not a Filipino, so the emotional attachment to what is seriously the Philiippines equivalent of an American adult’s fondness for…say, velveeta cheese…isn’t lost on me…or even twinkles. Plainly, the comparison may be lost in that said products are processed and the Philippines’ version of spaghetti is, at least, constructed and built…though, again, with a combination of fresh and processed items.

    Regardless, given that I am now visiting here in Manila one of my goals here is to expose myself (without getting arrested) to as much of the local cuisine as possible. With a strong background in Spanish cuisine, I can easily see, naturally, the influences of said culture upon the local eats, and its quite interesting.

  • Row

    I always make my spaghetti on the sweet side, but it’s been a long time since I’ve included hot dogs. Next time I make a batch, I’ll try your recipe and toss in extra hot dog slices, for old time’s sake. :)

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

    Lulu, it’s time to make your own sauce and meatballs! It’s very simple — I have confidence in you!!

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

    Enjoy your visit to my country, Chris. Our food is a true melting pot of cultures and cuisines.

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

    Thank you, Samantha. I’m making hot dogs with fried rice and fried eggs for breakfast this weekend — in your honor!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ikedatao Susan Tao

    Wow, I have to try this, thank you! First time I have heard of Banana Ketchup, is this a bottled product and is it available at major grocery chains?

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

    Thank you, Susan, for writing. Banana ketchup is readily available in most Asian stores. You can find them either in the aisle for condiments or for Filipino products. It is a ketchup-like sauce made from bananas, sugar, vinegar, and spices. Here’s a wikipedia.org entry for it,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_ketchup. Jufran is a favorite brand. Another recipe that I’d suggest you try is chicken barbecue that uses banana ketchup for the marinade: http://blog.junbelen.com/2012/08/29/how-to-make-aristocrat-style-chicken-barbecue/

  • Adora

    That is such a beautiful bowl of spaghetti. It makes me happy just to look at it. For me, the best part of Filipino spaghetti experience is the morning after: reheated in a pan for breakfast.

  • Iska

    As a child I always try to get as much hotdogs as I can into my serving. I still do every time I have this :-)

  • chef_d

    Reading your blog always makes me hungry even if I had just eaten! Beautiful writing and delicious pictures. Love your take on Filipino spaghetti!

  • http://twitter.com/SlimShoppin Jennifer von Ebers

    Love the combo of ingredients!

  • Anonymous

    Yes to Spaghetti inside pandesal!. Stunning photo as always, Jun.

  • Tina(PinayInTexas)

    Love the look of your spaghetti with hotdogs and meatballs, Jun! Totally delicious and comforting!

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  • http://thelazyblackcat.blogspot.com/ J.Anne Gonzales

    That looks awesome! And you didn’t even need to “cheat” with the food coloring! =)

  • http://twitter.com/CReneFriborg Christian R. Friborg

    I tasted this once at my Filipino friend’s house, and I couldn’t forget the taste since. There’s something about sweet spaghetti.

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

    I’m always blown away by how “red” banana ketchup is!

  • Francesca

    I just finished making this, and it’s fantastic! On a side note, thanks for the measurements. I grew up watching my mom cook all the yummy filipino dishes, but I never saw her once measure anything. She always did it by taste and smell. So when I started cooking filipino food, I attempted to go by taste and smell and that didn’t go well at all. I searched online, and ever since I found your blog, it has been my guide! Many thanks!

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

    Francesca, my mom is the same way, too. I think all Filipino moms are like that. She never measures and just tastes the food as she cooks. Thank you for trying the recipes here and I hope you keep on cooking from the blog. Tell me what works and what doesn’t. Stay in touch!

  • http://www.fayenicolehines.com/ Faye

    I love Filipino food but this is the first time I heard of Filipino spaghetti