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Pork & Tomato Pasta

It's a challenge to find good pasta outside of big cities in Malaysia. The most localised pasta dishes that you can find are spaghetti with ketchup & sausages, spaghetti "carbonara" in the thickest cream sauce, and spaghetti with western sides such as chicken chop or lamb chop. I can already imagine the wrath of Italians as they read my last sentence.

Anyway, before I get attacked by any Italians (9/10 times passionate about their food like us Malaysians), I shall share the recipe of one of my favourite pasta dishes: Pork & Tomato Pasta. Forgive me in advance if this isn't how it's traditionally prepared in Italy, but this is a version that I truly love!


Pork & Tomato Pasta

Difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐

Serves: 3-4 pax

Cook & Prep Time: 10 minutes prep; at least 2 hours of cooking


  • 200g pork mince (Around 30:70 fat to lean ratio. Can be replaced with chicken/beef/turkey mince)

  • 200g pork belly (Can be replaced with a fattier cut of chicken/beef/turkey, use bacon if you want smokiness in the sauce)

  • 1 bulb of garlic

  • 1 medium onion

  • 100g of cherry tomatoes

  • 2 cans of canned peeled plum tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

  • A splash of red wine (or replace with chicken/beef stock)

  • Salt

To serve:

  • Spaghetti (penne also works well)

  • Butter/olive oil

  • Basil

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Parmesan cheese (optional, best if it's freshly grated)

Ingredients for tomato pork pasta - basil, onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, spaghetti, tomato paste, cirio pelati canned tomato, pork mince, pork belly
The main ingredients that you'd need.

Cooking Directions : 1. Peel & roughly chop the garlic and onions.

2. Wash & half the cherry tomatoes lengthwise.

3. Cut pork belly into bite-sized chunks.

Prepped ingredients for tomato pork pasta
Prepped ingredients, just some simple cutting involved, the effort is in the cooking process!

4. Heat a pot over high heat, add olive oil and stir in garlic & onions.

Cooking onions and garlic for pasta sauce

5. Once the onions start to turn translucent, add in the pork belly and stir for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium if the meat browns too quickly.

Pork belly with onions and garlic

6. Add pork mince and continue stirring until cooked.

Cooking pork mince for pasta sauce

7. Add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pot, making sure that you scrape the bottom of your pot to loosen all the tasty caramelised bits.

Red wine to deglaze the pan
You can conveniently take a swig of wine to cool down from all the cooking

8. Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Break up the tomatoes & stir until well mixed.

9. Add cherry tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a boil.

10. Turn heat to low and leave it to simmer for at least 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Leave the lid slightly ajar as we need the sauce to reduce.

11. Once the sauce is thick enough, season with salt to taste.

Tomato pasta sauce after 2 hours of simmering
This is how beautiful the sauce should look after 1.5-2 hours of slow simmering!

To serve,

1. Salt a pot of water & cook spaghetti according to the packaging. Make sure it's al dente as we're cooking the pasta briefly in the sauce, mine took 9 minutes. *Don't forget to reserve a cup of pasta water

Boiling spaghetti
Don't overcook this please

2. Heat your pan over low heat, ladle in some sauce over your pasta and add a touch of butter/olive oil. Mix well and add some pasta water if it's too dry.

Adding butter and sauce to pasta
The butter acts as an emulsifier to make the sauce extra thick & velvety

3. Add some parmesan, halved cherry tomatoes & basil. Mix & turn off the heat.

Add basil, grated parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes to pasta sauce
Add as much or little basil, cheese and tomatoes as you wish!

And you're ready to eat!

The slow cooking process brings out the sweetness of the plum tomatoes, tenderises the pork belly (melt-in-your-mouth) and adds depth to the sauce. You can always make this sauce in advance to freeze - just be sure to serve it with some basil & tomatoes for that extra pop of freshness.

Anyway, did this take a lot of tender loving care on the stove? Yes. But is it worth all the hassle? Yes. So should you make this dish? Definite yes...unless you're happy with spaghetti with ketchup. hah

Till the next cook, stay safe & makan well!

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