Dutch Food 101

This post is long overdue. Ack….I even forgot to email the photos to the chef himself. (Slaps wrist)
I met Hans and Yvonne, a fun Dutch couple when Paul came over to Penang with them last year. Over our dinner at the Indian restaurant in Queensbay, Hans told me he was a chef so I bombarded him with questions about Dutch food.
Little did I know he took me seriously!

Nic and Hans relaxing on Paul's verandah as the sun sets
Nic and Hans relaxing on Paul's verandah as the sun sets

So serious that when Nic and I were in Langkawi last month, Hans and Yvonne borrowed Paul’s kitchen to cook us some authentic Dutch food – bitterballen, kartofelsouffle, meatloaf, kerbau stew complete with red cabbage, brussel sprouts and potatoes. This type of food, says Hans, is typical of a Sunday lunch for most Dutch people.
Now Hans is semi-retired and lives on Langkawi with his wife, Yvonne. His real work is dealing with stuff that’s nothing to do with food. But talk to this man about food and he lights up like a Christmas tree. He even taught me how to laminate bread if I didn’t like kneading bread too long! Talk about a very knowledgeable cook/chef.
Hans and Yvonne busy preparing a traditional Dutch dinner
Hans and Yvonne busy preparing a traditional Dutch dinner

Anyway, over glasses of red and white wines and whisky and lots of sinful chocolates (yup, this is Langkawi we are talking about), we had a grand dinner starting with bitterballen and meatloaf as appetizers! Bitterballen is basically breaded and deepfried balls of stewed beef wrapped in mashed potato, usually taken as a snack. (But it’s so hearty! How could anyone eat dinner after that?)
Appetizers - bitterballen & meatloaf with dijon mustard
Appetizers - bitterballen & meatloaf with dijon mustard

Hans the chef frying up bitterballen
Hans the chef frying up bitterballen

Hans specially made me some kartofelsouffle (I hope it’s spelt right) – actually, 4 pieces of it. Think of a flour-like wantan skin wrapped with cheese. Deepfry this and eat it hot, with melting cheese all over. I tell you, it’s so damn good that I wanted more but there was only 1 each, for sampling.
Only for die-hard cheese fan... kartofelsouffle!
Only for die-hard cheese fan... kartofelsouffle!

The Dutch style meatloaf is made days before and sliced super thin and eaten dipped into splendid Dijon mustard. It’s a cold dish. This is different from the super-thick slices of Malaysian meatloaf I used to eat as a kid at my best friend’s house. Her sister’s meatloaf was warm, thick and tomato-ish and eaten with dollops of mashed potato.
Meatloaf, sliced super thin, Dutch style
Meatloaf, sliced super thin, Dutch style

Of course, the king of the table that night was the stewed kerbau Dutch style. Now I have never eaten kerbau so Hans explained that kerbau meat actually isn’t very different from regular beef. The best part is, it’s a cheaper cut of meat. Using the stewing process, the kerbau meat actually is tender and peels away in strips! Of course, kerbau meat is also a heaty meat so eat with caution. OK, maybe down more beer? Chinese consider beer as the ‘gwei loh liong char’ or the Westerner’s herbal tea. This means beer is cooling.
The way to eat this stew is to have it with a side accompaniment of steamed brussels sprouts, tangy red cabbage (Apfel Rotkohl) and of course with boiled baby potatoes. This combination was drizzled with some apple sauce which gave the meal a good mix of tastes and flavours. Tangy, sweet, salty.
Apple red cabbage from the supermarket
Apple red cabbage from the supermarket

Post-dinner, we lingered over cups of coffee and Turkish delight but even so, Hans was adamant I try some whisky so I could understand the subtle differences in whisky. After sampling Laphroaig single malt, I know why whisky is a man’s drink! It’s truly a taste that grows on you but it certainly did not grow on me. It’s not called the world’s most richly flavoured whisky for nothing.
Thanks Hans and Yvonne for your wonderful cooking and introduction to Dutch cuisine.
Hartelijk bedankt!

2 thoughts on “Dutch Food 101”

  1. HI D: Laminate bread means rolling the bread dough thinly then folding it over itself many times. It’s not the ‘encase in plastic’ meaning haha. I told Hans that I enjoy kneading bread dough though he says if I wanted to, I could use the laminate method to save myself some sore arms! Laminated bread creates flaky layers not unlike the layers you see in croissants.

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