Filipinos love their spaghetti sweet. That kind of preparation is as “pinoy” as adobo. Growing up, I would watch in awe as grandma would take out her large wok, and arrange the ingredients for the spaghetti on the table: lots of tomato sauce, ground pork or beef, hotdogs (it had to be Tender Juicy!) and the condensed milk. Yes, our household believes that the key to a great sweet spaghetti lies in the condensed milk. Let’s not forget the cheese. Lots of it. I actually thought that spaghetti is always prepared this way. Jollibee underscored it even more. But then as time and experience chipped a few notions away, I began to appreciate just how diverse pasta could be.
Lately my birthdays would always mean that paella would be the center of attention (aside from myself.ha!). But a younger me would be happy to see two or three pyrex dishes filled with spaghetti, generously topped with cheese. Even if pasta comes in various shapes, presentations and flavors…sweet spaghetti hits the spot because it tugs at the heartstrings.
Just this afternoon, after my routine of taking a few photographs of the dish I made, I sat on the floor with a plate of my version of the good stuff grandma makes. There was something missing – the cheese perhaps. But that didn’t matter when I finished all of it. And the package of pasta says it was supposed to serve four. Let’s just pretend I’m not aware of that tiny detail.
Filipino Style Spaghetti (serves 3 – 4)
The name alone couldn’t contain just how diverse the ingredients and methods Pinoys employ to make their sweet spaghetti. Just because it’s supposed to be sweet doesn’t mean you should go overboard. It has to have the balance of sweet and savory. I used smoked longganisa instead of ground pork, and coconut sugar as a “friendlier” sweetener.
- half a bulb of garlic, minced
- 1 medium-sized white onion, sliced
- 175 grams pasta noodles, cooked according to package instructions
- 1/4 cup salty, starchy water used to cook the pasta
- 250 grams tomato sauce
- 142 grams vienna sausage (I use Libby’s), drained and sliced
- 411 grams canned diced tomatoes, with the liquid reserved.
- 5 – 7 pieces sweet longganisa, sliced into bite sized pieces.
- 3 – 5 tablespoons coconut sugar (or use brown sugar)
- dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste
- In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute until onions start to sweat and garlic is fragrant.
- Add the longganisa and cook until the fat renders and it is starting to brown.
- Add the diced tomatoes together with the liquid. Add the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce has reduced and has thickened. Add the vienna sausage.
- Mix in the sugar, season with salt, pepper and thyme.
- When the sauce has reduced, add the starchy water and raise the heat to high. Add in the pasta and mix well. Serve immediately and top with grated cheese (optional)