When in the Netherlands, try the Rijst Tafel.
Indo-Chinese food in the Netherlands is one of my favorite types of “Dutch” food. I look forward to visits to my family’s favorite, neighborhood, Indo-Chinese restaurant, Tong Ah. It is a very local place where everyone knows your name and what your order is going to be as you walk in the door. I love that and the fact they remember me even though I’m not here too often. I was lucky during my recent visit that I was able to dine or in reality gorge myself on the delicious food served there.
Indonesia was once a Dutch colony and the source of many spices. Many of the foods of Indonesia have been woven into Dutch culture over the centuries. It is so colorful and flavorful. Most of the fare featured in Dutch restaurants had its origins on the island of Bali.
If you do go to an Indo-Chinese restaurant in the Netherlands, and I really hope you do, you may want to order a Rijst Tafel or rice table which is a variety of small dishes, more or less a cross section of the entire menu.
Or you can order off the menu. Here are some of my favorites.
As a starter you can have a Loempia, which is a huge egg roll overflowing with bean sprouts, cabbage, pork or shrimp yumminess, for which I sadly do not have a photo to share. Or you can try, Pangsit, pictured left with a sweet dipping sauce. It is usually is seasoned pork deep-fried in a wonton.
Every meal comes with a huge piece of Krupuk, the deep-fried shrimp crackers.
For main courses, my favorite is Nasi Rames, which basically is “leftovers” and is a plate of various dishes. I wish I knew the names of all the wonderful selections, but each restaurant has its own Nasi Rames plate. You can have it with rice (rijst) or noodles (bami). Usually it comes with chicken saté with peanut (saté) sauce, roast chicken and some vegetables. Atjar is a pickled cabbage and carrots.
Another favorite is Babi Pangang (sweet, crisp pork).
There are also lighter noodle and vegetable dishes served with either chicken or seafood. These below are more Chinese than Indonesian.
Now back to chicken saté. Every Dutch restaurant or bar has it on their menu. It is usually served with salad and friet (French fries), but the meat can be chicken, pork or beef. I prefer chicken.
I was leery to try to cook this type of cuisine at home here in the US; however, I did bring some spice mixes back with me. We recently made our own Indo-Chinese meal and it was pretty darn tasty. We made Rendang Vlees, which is beef simmered in a spicy, coconut-based gravy and sweet-and-spicy green bean side called, Sajoer Boontjes.
Sweet smells waft through the air from Dutch kitchens. While “nasi” or Indonesian-Chinese fried rice and “gehaktballen” or meatballs are considered a staple of Dutch families, “pannenkoeken” and “poffertjes” are often considered the ultimate comfort food. Both are simple and quick to make: flour, salt, milk, and egg.
“Pannenkoeken” or pancakes are cross between American pancakes and French crepes. They are a main meal and can be sweet or savory. Pannenkoeken are very large about 12 inches in diameter. They can be served simply with powdered sugar and an thick syrup called “stroop” or with cheese or meat such as ham or bacon. Pannenkoeken can, also, be flavored with Bami or Indonesian seasoning. There are two ways to eat them either flat or rolled up. Doesn’t matter, because they are delish!
“Poffertjes” or yeast-based mini-pancakes are quite a treat. They are considered a dessert. Typically, they are served with a pad of melted butter and powdered sugar. For more of an elaborate treat, they can be flavored with liqueurs or topped with fruit and fresh whipped cream. Poffertjes are best eaten fresh out of the pan allowing the butter to drench the powdered sugar. Highly suggested to enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while sitting at an outdoor cafe watching the world go by.
Below are the special large-scale pans used to make poffertjes.
Nothing better then visiting a pannenkoeken huis and enjoying a wide selection of pannenkoeken freshly made. Or sitting at a terrance trying not to wear the powdered sugar on the poffertjes.