Culinary Blog

Dutch Cuisine

Dutch cuisine is a complex and varied food culture. The Netherlands has always been internationally-minded, which means that during the days of worldwide sailing and exploration, a number of ingredients and cultures were combined to make the wonderful melting pot that is Dutch cuisine. In this article, we’re going to talk about everything to do with dutch cuisine, from street food to sweets, and even the colonization of Indonesia.

Dutch Street Food

Dutch street food is a nearly endless list of fantastically unhealthy and delicious options. They’re all sure to tantalize and delight your tastebuds as well as your stomach, and so we’ve found a few that you might have heard of. First of all, we’ve got bitterballen! These are a meat-based, bite-sized snack that’s been a favorite from the country for quite a while. They consist of meat that is cooked and cooled in thick beef stock and roux sauce. When cooled, the mixture is quite solid. At that point, balls of the mixture are rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. The stew that is made from beef stock and roux isn’t dissimilar to Espagnole, the classic French sauce made from precisely those ingredients. The difference is that Espagnole is typically quite thin, while this stew is thick so that it can cool to a solid consistency. Another famous Dutch snack is the Kroket. In English, it’s typically referred to as a croquette, but the basic construction is the same. The traditional dutch version is meat ragu that has been covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Of course, this is different from other versions, which are typically mashed potato that has been breaded and fried. The kroket is sometimes served on a bread roll with sauce. In which case, the snack food would be referred to as a "broodje kroket". Typically, these Dutch snacks would be served through a Snackmuur. A snackmuur is, essentially, an enormous vending machine the size of a wall. Typically someone would put their money into the machine, and then select their option. A small door will then open into a heated compartment, where their food will be presented for them.

Dutch Sweets

Dutch food is resplendent with wonderful sweet dishes, and there are almost too many to think of. The reason for this is that sweet food has always been transported around the world, meaning that the Netherlands, as a land with a number of prominent European ports, had access to goods like sugar and cocoa as they were shipped through the country. First of all, we would be remiss not to include Stroopwafel on a list of dutch food. Stroopwafel is a wonderfully sweet and decadent treat that is a little hard to describe without offering one to someone. Stroopwafel is a thin, round waffle cookie. An individual stroopwafel has two very thin layers of sweet baked dough sandwiches around a caramel filling. Generally, the dish is exceptionally sweet, as well as being wonderfully crispy and crunchy. The dish is often served on top of a coffee cup, so that the steam rising from the coffee softens the cookie and the caramel, making for a gooey, delightful mouthful of wonderful food. Another famous Dutch sweet treat that you may have heard of is Poffertjes. They’re a light and fluffy confectionary that is perfect when drowned in honey or maple syrup. They’re essentially a small, yet thick, pancake. They are made from a yeasted batter made with buckwheat flour and are typically cooked in a pan, several at a time. They’re then served with plenty of confectioner’s sugar sprinkled across the top. The wonderful thing about these small pancakes is that they’re so incredibly light. Very often, a thick, American-style pancake can be quite stodgy and tricky to get through. In this case, though, the pancakes are wonderfully easy to get through. As well as being cooked and served as pancakes are around the world, they’re also sometimes served as street food, where you can eat them with your fingers, as long as you don’t mind the heat!

Dutch-Indonesian Cuisine

From 1816 to 1949, Indonesia was under the control of the dutch. The Dutch East India Company set up a number of trading posts throughout what is now Indonesia, and when the Dutch East India Company came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800, Indonesia became the Dutch East Indies - a Dutch colony. Over time, the Dutch gained more and more control over what is now Indonesia and held on to it firmly. The land itself was a fantastic way for them to secure more wealth through the acquisition and trade of spices and cash crops.  In 1949, after the Indonesian National Revolution, the country was able to secure its place independently of the Netherlands and has since been acknowledged as a truly sovereign country. Dutch people migrating to and then living and working in Indonesia meant that there were a lot of spices, cooking methods, and dishes that were swapped between the native people and the colonizers. This exchange of ideas led to a number of delicious dishes, such as rendang, and gado gado. Rendang is a creamy and rich dish, in which meat is essentially poached in coconut milk and spices until it’s tender and beautifully spiced. As the meal cooks, the liquid evaporates, leading to the meat turning dark brown and being truly tender. At that point, it is caramelized and has been infused with a number of rich flavors. The Dutch influence on this is quite simple. Due to the historical links between the two countries, the Dutch are exceptionally familiar with the dish. So familiar that the dish is served with very few changes in the Netherlands, though typically it’s served a little wetter, with some of the coconut milk still with the meat. Typically, rendang is served as part of a rijsttafel. This is a style of eating whereas many as forty or fifty dishes are served at once, and the people help themselves to small portions of the food. This is a traditional Indonesian method of serving food that has been adapted and taken on by the Dutch over time. Now, around the world, it is commonly known by the dutch name rather than any Indonesian term.

We hope that through the course of this article you’ve been able to learn a little about Dutch cuisine. It’s a fascinating and varied range of dishes, and it’s something we haven’t even scratched the surface of here.  Make sure to have some Dutch food soon, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed!