Weeknight Cooking

Ketchup Spaghetti for One

April 30, 2019
11 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

Spaghetti Napolitan (named after Naples, Italy), or what I like to call "ketchup spaghetti," was invented by the head chef at the New Grand Hotel. Since tomato sauce was a rare ingredient in postwar Yokohama around the 1950s, ketchup was used as a substitute. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Story of Spaghetti Napolitan, Japan's Best Pasta Dish. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 1
  • 4 ounces spaghetti (I prefer thin, but regular is fine)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 large organic egg
  • Olive oil, for frying egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup^
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
In This Recipe
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the spaghetti according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, fry egg in some olive oil, sunny-side up, until crispy at the edges. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. When pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain, and set spaghetti aside for later.
  4. In the now empty pot, prepare the sauce: Melt 1 tablespoon butter and sauté onion and bell pepper for 2 to 3 minutes, until just starting to caramelize.
  5. Add the remaining tablespoon butter, then stir in the ketchup and sugar. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until ketchup has cooked down a bit. Splash in milk, along with the cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss with the sauce and fry pasta for a minute or so, adding some of the reserved cooking water to thin out as needed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Plate spaghetti, then top with the fried egg.
  7. ^If you've got tomato paste lying around, then substitute 1 of the tablespoons ketchup with tomato paste for a deeper, richer tomato flavor.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mdelgatty
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Lynn D.
    Lynn D.
  • Claudia
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.

    8 Reviews

    mdelgatty March 8, 2020
    Why would you fry the egg ahead of time, rather than just before serving so it's still hot?
    Author Comment
    Eric K. March 8, 2020
    Hm, good point. I think I did that so you wouldn't have to dirty another pan. I suppose you could in theory make the spaghetti first, plate it, clean the pan (there'll be some gunk), and fry an egg in there. Or just fry in a separate pan so everything stays hot. Not important; do you!
    mdelgatty March 9, 2020
    And here I thought maybe I was missing something important! (Hate missing things...)
    Lynn D. July 7, 2019
    Waiting to make this when my husband is out of town. He-will-not-eat ketchup. I'm thinking of adapting it to a one pot Martha Stewart style pasta dis and adding cubed fried spam.
    Claudia June 25, 2019
    What a fantastic recipe. I quadrupled it to feed our family of 6, and it was a complete hit!!! Thank you for this simple AND flavorful version. This will be a staple from now on.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. March 8, 2020
    Claudia, I'm so glad. Thank you!
    Kelly V. June 7, 2019
    This is fantastic! A great pasta recipe for one.
    Author Comment
    Eric K. March 8, 2020