Whether it is your nephew’s birthday or the occasional town fiesta, there is a dish that always has its place in the buffet spread: spaghetti. The unmistakable red sauce of Filipino-style spaghetti, heaped with sliced hotdogs and topped with strings of grated cheddar cheese, has been a staple in our events and in our children’s (and child-like) taste buds. Believed to have been served to General Douglas MacArthur during the American colonization, it has transcended eras and still has upheld itself to be a Pinoy favorite.
Although great in its original form, you may find yourself wanting to tweak the recipe and to add unexpected ingredients to surprise your kids. Here are some ways to reinvent the classic Filipino spaghetti without losing the essence of the dish.
Mix in canned corned beef
Yes, you read that right. The already bright red hue of Filipino spaghetti sauce can get another reddish ingredient: canned corned beef. The pantry constant comes in handy when the kids suddenly request the sweet dish. Not only does it cater to emergency cravings, but it also lends a different texture to the dish. Sauté the corned beef after the hotdogs and ground beef before pouring the combination of tomato sauce and banana ketchup.
Add some condensed milk
Filipino-style spaghetti is known for being sickly sweet, a localized version that is quite far from the tomato-based pasta dish of Italian origins. The sweetness is thanks to banana ketchup, an invention by Batangas-born food technologist and chemist Maria Orosa. But have you thought of adding 1/4 cup of condensed milk for a creamier and sweeter sauce? While it seems counterintuitive, it is said to be the closest recipe you can make to mimic one of the flagship products of the bright red bee’s fast food chain, making it instantly kid-approved.
Make it keto-friendly
No need to balk at the thought of turning the pasta dish into a keto-friendly meal because it would only require a few ingredient substitutes. The banana ketchup would have to be replaced with a low-carb and sugar-free sauce to ensure adherence to the keto diet method, but don’t fret about losing the signature sweet taste of Filipino spaghetti. Add in a bit of low-carb sweetener to achieve the well-loved flavor profile of the sauce and fold it over the all-too-familiar team of ground beef and red hotdogs. Pour it over a plate of Shirataki noodles, sprinkle some cheddar cheese before serving, and your kids won’t probably notice the difference. However, it’s still important to ask your children’s pediatrician if they can tolerate a keto-based meal.
What makes Filipino dishes special is their uncanny ability to adapt to different tastes, diets, and times while still preserving the original characteristics that made a meal uniquely Pinoy. The Filipino-style spaghetti, which has reigned dining tables over the past years, continues to be a family celebratory staple and a shining beacon of light in a red-sauce pasta form.