Well, this is kinda awkward. I haven’t done one of these in… well, it’s been quite a while. And I feel bad, because several months ago, I had promised Aria, from The Animanga Spellbook, that i’d take a look at a dish she was curious about. And then… well, life kind of got in the way, and I wasn’t able to do the research I really wanted to about the dish.
She provided me with two images, one of a regular Neapolitan, and another of a, well, sort of black monstrosity of a dish. try as I might, however, I was never able to find an existing counterpart for that dish, as black Neapolitan doesn’t really seem to be a thing. I think the only reasonable way to accomplish that would be to use Squid Ink pasta, but none of my local stores were selling any, so I just went for the normal Neapolitan instead.
Spaghetti Neapolitan is a dish that certainly sounds Italian, but in reality, it’s a dish that originated in Japan in the late 1940s, post-WWII. Faced with war reparations and U.S. military permanently stationed in Japan, many Western foods made their way into the country. Shigetada Irie, head chef of the Hotel New Grand, created the dish in an attempt to impress U.S. General Douglas MacArthur during his stay at the hotel.
The dish was a hit with many of the staff, and various iterations of it quickly spread across the country, being served in many homes, and as a specialty dish at older-style coffee shops around the country. Compared to the homemade tomato sauce that Chef Irie used, however, many discovered that a cheap alternative was to simply use Ketchup.
While the dish is less popular nowadays than it used to be, Spaghetti Neapolitan is still a popular dish across Japan. Being very cheap, quick, and easy to make, it’s a great dish for lower middle-class families, as well as for when you need a quick but relatively tasty meal.
Now, as I like to consider myself a man of culture, I decided that rather than use Ketchup, I would make my own tomato sauce. (You can, of course, just ignore this and use Ketchup instead, though.) After some experimenting, here’s what I came up with:
Canned Tomatoes – 1 can
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Minced Garlic – 4 cloves
Roasted Red Bell Pepper – 1
Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup
Worcestershire Sauce – 2 tbsp
Black Pepper – 1 tsp
Ground Cumin – 1 tsp
Ground Cinnamon – 1 tsp
Ground Cloves – 1 tsp
Chili Powder – 1 tbsp
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/4 cup
Chop the pepper into large chunks and add into a medium-heat pan, along with the olive oil. Roast the pepper on medium heat until fragrant and soft, try to avoid blackening any part of the pepper. When pepper is starting to soften, add garlic to pan, and sautee for 1 minute on high heat, before removing from heat and transferring the contents of the pan to a blender.
Add canned tomatoes, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, chili powder, and Worcestershire to the blender, and blend together until smooth. Blending at a low speed, add Vinegar gradually, making sure to taste consistently. Different varieties of canned tomatoes have different acidities, so this is important to balance the taste of our sauce. Add vinegar until sauce is still sweet, but has a slight acidic tang as well.
Spaghetti Neapolitan comes in a wide number of varieties, and is a dish you can customize pretty well to your liking. I’ll give a general base for the required mix-ins, as well as some tips on things you can add to make the dish your own!
1 Whole White Onion
1 Large Green Bell Pepper
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
4 Cloves Minced Garlic
Begin by adding a splash of extra Olive Oil to the same pan you used to roast your ingredients for the sauce. Peel and dice your onion, and add to the pan, cooking until off-white and beginning to soften.
Cut both peppers into short spears, and add to the pan along with the garlic once the onion has begun to soften. Continue cooking until peppers begin to soften up. At this point, you can add in anything extra that you’d like on your pasta. Here are some examples, and how to best use them:
Sausage – cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices
Mushroom – Button, Portobello, or Shiitake, cut into slices
Parsley – Roughly chop
Vienna Sausages – carefully make thick slices on a diagonal
Whatever you decide to use, add to the pan and sautee with your onion/pepper mixture until thoroughly cooked!
Putting it all together!
Our pasta itself is pretty self-explanatory. Heat water to a boil, adding about 1 tsp of table salt to the water about halfway through the boil. Once the water is boiling thoroughly, add Spaghetti and let cook until thoroughly al-dente (basically, we’re cooking the pasta until it still has a bit of firmness in the middle, but not enough to be crunchy or anything. A good way to estimate this is, look at the recommended cook time (usually around 10 minutes) and cook for about a minute less. Make sure to taste before dumping out your water, though!
Once we have our lovely al-dente pasta strained, wash it thoroughly with cold water. Now, it’s time to assemble our meal!
In a clean pan, add some of the al-dente pasta to about 1 tsp olive oil, and begin to bring up the heat. Once the pasta begins to cook, add several spoonfuls of our sauce (not too much, just enough to wet them down) atop the noodles, and cook until the red color begins to seep into the noodle itself. At this point, add a generous spoonful of our toppings mixture, making sure to get a healthy amount of onion, pepper, and whatever else is there for a lovely distribution!
Cook this all together for about 30 seconds, then transfer to your favorite plate or bowl, top with some Parmesan Cheese, and dig in!
Well, what can I say, I found a great way to overcomplicate what should be a very simple dish. But, well, whenever I make these dishes, I want to make them as delicious as I possibly can! All-told, the amounts totaled in this recipe should feed 4-6 people, though you can always save the sauce and toppings for another day, and just make enough pasta each time to feed yourself.
While this certainly wasn’t my favorite meal i’ve made for this series, it did turn out to be tastier than I expected it to, and it only took me about 20 minutes to put together, so it is REALLY fast to make. It’s also cheap, as I had all the ingredients already around my house, but I estimate it’s possible to make the meal for well under $10, so it’s not bad bang for your buck.
Anyways, thank you guys all so very much for reading! To Aria, I apologize for taking so long to get around to this! But, I hope this recipe gives you guys the opportunity to make this dish for yourselves! If you end up making it, let me know how it went, and if there’s anything you would change in the recipe! Also, remember to please, please leave me some suggestions for what to make next down in the comments! Enjoy your meals, and i’ll see you all in the next post!