Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spaghetti Eastern

Spaghetti Napolitan
Spaghetti Napolitan

I'll get this out of the way now -- the key ingredients to the unique flavor of Japanese style spaghetti are ketchup and butter.

Sneer all you want, but I love this! If I had a guilty conscience about consuming certain dishes, this would be one of them mainly due to ketchup being frowned upon by many who cook authentic Italian tomato sauces. It may be looked down upon worse than Spaghetti-Os.

Napolitan is often enjoyed by children, served in a colorful platter in the shape of a plane, ship, train, or similar, with a paper Italian flag on a toothpick stuck in the center, one of several okosama lunch ("okosama" is an honorific term for child) typically served. Okosama lunch is similar in concept to a McDonald's Happy Meal, except conjured ~80 years ago and using real platters and silverware.

My recollection of the flavor comes from a lunch I had with my mother at a snack shop in Okinawa along a side street. We were strolling along on the way from her mother's place to Ishikawa City to go shopping with hundreds of dollars worth of otoshidama (New Years celebration gift money) I received, when we came upon a cute, white, faux rustic 2-story house with wooden window frames, the kind you would imagine running in to in Peter Rabbit or see little hobbits running about.

The spaghetti was served to me in an adult plate because I was a bit over the age of 7...10 years over to be exact. It wooed my Japanese taste buds.

As much as I like to reminisce and eat this dish, I don't make this in large quantities. I may eat this 3-4 times a year and only when we cook a big pot of spaghetti (tomato based) sauce with linguine, with 1 cup of sauce and 2-3 servings of linguine set aside.

This time around we had zucchini, ground beef, celery, carrots, and tomatoes in our sauce.

To Napolitan-ize it:
- add around 1 tablespoon of butter to a hot pan on medium
- add 2-3 servings of linguine to the pan of butter and mix noodles until noodles are well coated
- add 1 cup of spaghetti sauce and ~2 tsp of ketchup. Mix thoroughly.

The end product should be on the dry side, taste a little buttery, and slightly sweeter, but should not be cloying. Since I prefer my spaghetti a little spicy, I usually add crushed chili peppers on my plate.

- Cassaendra

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