I feel that “cooking more Filipino food” has been on my New Years resolution list for the past three years - no joke. It’s so sad because being 3/4 Filipino and being a pretty good cook that I cook food from my culture maybe once a year. Perhaps it’s because I was raised here and didn’t grow up with the exposure as other Filipino families. I did have chicken adobo and arroz caldo growing up but not much more than that unless something was being served a family party. However, after cooking a simple chicken adobo in the Instant Pot recently at a company potluck (which was a huge hit, by the way), I was re-inspired to make something from my heritage. Tonight I made Filipino spaghetti.

Now, unless you’re Filipino, you’ve probably never had our version of spaghetti. There are a couple things that you need to know if you are a newbie to Filipino cuisine: 1) we love sugar and 2) we also have mechanically separated meat. Yes. I’m not lying. We love our hot dogs, Vienna sausages, and spam. Sweet meat (tocino), sweet bread (pandesal), steamed cake with cheese (babingka), and the list goes on! Filipino food is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury and Filipino spaghetti isn’t an exception.

When I asked my Filipino chefs at work for a “from-scratch”, everyone just told me to use the packaged sauces. What? No. Do you know me?! I make everything from scratch - Filipino spaghetti is no exception!!! When doing additional research, a lot of recipes called for banana ketchup or catsup. Couldn’t find the damn ingredient anywhere. I called my mom up to ask what her secret was and to my surprise, it was condensed milk! I know, sounds gross, right? But TRUST me on this - it’s a complete winner!

The end result? Complete comfort food. Sounds like the oddest combination…but give it a try! Its different. But honestly, who doesn’t like hot dogs in things?!

Also, this recipe makes a shit ton. A lot. I just had a ton of leftover meat from the summer and wanted to use it all - feel free to halve the recipe!

FILIPINO SPAGHETTI - serves 8 - 10

  • 2 (500g) pkgs spaghetti

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 large white onion, diced

  • 1 head of garlic, minced

  • 2 lbs ground beef

  • 2 pkg jumbo hot dogs, sliced

  • 1 (680ml) can tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

  • 2/3 cup condensed milk

  • 1/3 cup pasta water

  • 1 bay leaf

  • salt + pepper

  1. In a pot of salted water, cook the spaghetti according to packaged directions. Set aside 1/4 cup pasta water, drain and set the cooked pasta aside.

  2. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the hot dogs and saute.

  4. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, condensed milk, and pasta water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Add bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste.'

  5. Toss with spaghetti noodles and serve.

Filipino Spaghetti