Napolitan: Japan’s Unique Twist on Italian Spaghetti

What about Napolitan?

Hello, food-loving travelers! While savoring Japan’s sushi, tempura, and ramen is wonderful, we highly recommend you try Japan’s unique take on Italian cuisine, particularly “Napolitan.” This is a staple of Japanese home-cooking, also served in many restaurants and cafés.

You may be wondering, “What is Napolitan?” It’s a ketchup-based spaghetti dish packed with ingredients like sausage, bell peppers, and onions. This dish was born in Japan after World War II and is based on an American-influenced recipe. While the name pays homage to the city of Naples in Italy, it’s actually invented in Japan and considered one of Japan’s distinctive “yōshoku” (Western-style dishes).

Napolitan is one of the most popular dishes in Japan.

Japan’s Napolitan is quite different from Italian tomato-based pasta dishes. Notably, Napolitan in Japan is seasoned with a sweet and tangy sauce based on ketchup, and the pasta is thoroughly stir-fried. This cooking method highlights the flavor and produces a characteristic savory taste.

Japanese Napolitan, with its unique flavor and simplicity, is a common sight in family restaurants, cafes, and diners. It is also often made at home, widely loved by children and adults alike.

To enhance the flavor of Napolitan, it’s standard to sprinkle some powdered cheese and Tabasco sauce on it.

Napolitan’s derivative forms

From its simple composition and deliciousness, Japan’s Napolitan has won hearts all over the country and exists in several derivative forms.

Firstly, in the Chubu and Kansai regions, Napolitan is commonly referred to as “Italian.” Depending on the specific area, these names might be used interchangeably.

In Nagoya city, there’s a unique variation of Napolitan called “Italian Spaghetti.” This involves placing spaghetti on a hot iron plate, then pouring a beaten egg over it. This dish starts with Napolitan prepared in a frying pan, transferred onto the heated iron plate, and finished off with the beaten egg.

In Fuji city, Shizuoka Prefecture, a local dish called “Tsuke Napolitan” is popular. It involves dipping noodles in a double soup based on tomato sauce, further enhancing the deliciousness of Napolitan.

Japanese Napolitan offers a distinct charm different from traditional Japanese cuisine. To savor its unique flavor and history, be sure to give it a try!