Weeknight Cooking

Ketchup Spaghetti for One

April 30, 2019
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.

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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 covers food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.