Napolitans (ナポリタン), often also referred to as Naporitana, are a dish of spaghetti topped with the ketchup-based sauce that gives it its name.
Although many Japanese believe that this dish has Italian origins, it is actually absolutely Japanese. Probably the Napolitan spaghetti represent the best known and emblematic case of yoshoku cuisine, or that branch of Japanese cuisine that has taken Western dishes as a starting point, has reworked them and made them its own.
The origin of this imaginative dish dates back to the end of the Second World War, during the occupation of Japanese soil by American troops led by General McArthur. The latter, at the time, was a guest at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama. The chef of the Shigetada Irie hotel, to please the foreign guests, decided to create a recipe that met their tastes and to do so he started from the food rations that the soldiers had with them. The chef didn't use ketchup at first, but canned tomato sauce. The choice to use ketchup was made by the first chef of the hotel restaurant, a Swiss who claimed to know the real Neapolitan tomato sauce. It was the same cook who, by letting them cook much longer than the indicated times, made them overcooked, almost similar to noodles.
Making this dish with ketchup was much easier and cheaper than using tomato sauce. For this reason the recipe was copied and replicated in a short time by numerous restaurateurs who included it in the menu of their premises.
Although Napolitan spaghetti make Italians horrified, in Japan they are very easily found and are an omnipresent preparation especially in family restaurants.
- 100 gr of spaghetti
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 small green pepper
- 1/4 of red pepper
- 5 sliced champignon mushrooms
- 1 slice of cooked ham cut into strips
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 tablespoons of ketchup
- freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the spaghetti in abundant salted water, while the Neapolitan sauce is being prepared.
- Cut the onion into slices that are not too thin.
- Cut the peppers into thin strips.
- Heat a pan and melt the butter in it. Add the onion and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for a few minutes.
- Add the ham and sizzle until the ingredients are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the spaghetti from the pan with kitchen tongs, without draining them, and place them in the pan. Continue cooking and, if necessary, add a cup of pasta cooking water.
- Add the ketchup and mix thoroughly.
- Distribute in a serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.