There is a phenomenon here in our country, one that is unique and special to us, a secret joy we share that no one else in the world can seem to understand.
For me, a taste reminiscent of childhood, one that I look for and relish to this day. In fact, I do believe our Pinoy-style sweet spaghetti has ruined me for Bolognese forever. I could never really fully embrace authentic spaghetti Bolognese (even on a trip to the actual Bologna in Italy!), and I believe our sweet version has perhaps a little thing to do with it (my weird hang-up with ground meat may have contributed too though!). I can consume bowls and bowls of sweet spaghetti until I’m in a state of happy food coma. At children’s parties you can find me shamelessly making a beeline to the spaghetti (our sweet spaghetti is also known as party spaghetti).
For me, it is comfort and nostalgia and deliciousness all in one package.
To the rest of the world however (and I suspect to the Italians in particular), this sweet blend of a traditional pasta sauce is looked on as a travesty.
But travesty or no, I won’t be cowed into giving up the things I love just because they don’t fit into everyone else’s world view (and neither should you!). I love what I love, and I eat what I eat. That’s always been the way I’ve lived.
So when working with Knorr on the #LutongNanay campaign, and they shared this recipe for sweet-style spaghetti, I happily gave it a spin. It uses a pork broth cube to add savoriness and depth to the sauce. As a working mom I don’t always have the time to make stock from scratch, or get some homemade broth from my favorite purveyors, so having stock cubes in the pantry for emergencies really help.
Sweet Style Spaghetti
(adapted from Knorr Philippines’ recipe)
- 400 grams spaghetti (or long pasta of your choice…I used linguini)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 kilo ground pork
- 2 pieces Knorr pork broth cube
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 800-gram can of chopped or crushed tomatoes
- 2-3 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup water
- salt, to taste
- Optional: grated cheese
– Cook pasta noodles as per package directions, set aside.
– Heat oil in a pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
– Add the ground pork and cook until the color changes. Add the Knorr pork cubes and mix with the pork until fully dissolved.
– Add tomato paste and chopped/crushed tomatoes. Stir and simmer for about 2-5 minutes.
– Add sugar, pepper, and water. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened, some of the water evaporates, and you can see the oil separate from the sauce. You can skim off some of the oil at this point if you’d like.
– Taste and adjust seasoning. Add salt or sugar to tweak it to your preferred taste.
– Topped cooked noodles with sauce and grated cheese.
I adapted the Knorr recipe a bit to suit my, and my family’s taste, as well as what we usually have on hand. I used linguini instead of spaghetti because that’s our favorite long pasta noodle, and what we always have in stock. I also used canned chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, as that is what we usually use when making pasta sauce. If you use tomato sauce, use 500 grams, which is what the original recipe called for. I also lessened the amount of sugar from the original recipe as, although I love sweet spaghetti, my family doesn’t like it too sweet. Finally I lengthened the cooking time a bit…I find that cooking this (as with any pasta meat sauce) for longer yields a richer flavor.
I used grated quick-melt or cheese-food-type cheese here as that is what reminds me of eating this as a child. You can certainly substitute a more elegant cheese, but this is what does it for me. We are talking nostalgia here, not haute cuisine.
This was definitely well appreciated by my family on this very rainy Sunday, snug at home with most of us still in our pajamas! I loved watching them eat it, even if the kids did make a bit of a mess (they’re still learning to twirl as opposed to cut their pasta!).
Whether it is loving sweet spaghetti sauce, or using the occasional stock cube, I refuse to feel guilty about my food choices. And you shouldn’t either. If you are tired from work and just want to curl into a ball and whimper, by all means take that shortcut in the kitchen and afford yourself a little more time to rest, or cuddle with your children. If the majority of the world frowns upon your secret favorite food because it is grossly unsophisticated, who cares? The only one who will suffer by giving it up is you. Yes, certainly, let’s all try to make food choices that are good for our health as well as our taste buds. I’ve always been an advocate for that. But let’s look at the bigger picture as well – general well-being and the realities of your own life and its pace.
I believe food and eating (and cooking!) are meant to be fun and a pleasure. Let’s remember that shall we? And in the meantime, if you, like me, enjoys sweet spaghetti…hope you enjoy this with abandon!