DO YOU REALLY WANT FRIES WITH THAT?
Clever folks, those Thailanders.
In actual fact, it belongs to neither the Thais nor the Dutch.
Though it has become an inseparable part of their cuisines.
[Assuming, of course, that the Dutch possess a cuisine. The jury is still out on that. The Thais do have such a thing.]
Peanut sauce was developed in Indonesia several centuries ago, shortly after the introduction of goobers and chilies to the Indies. The locals there use it on any number of dishes, the most well-known of which is satay ('saté' - grilled skewered meat).
It is also used on grilled chicken, on a multitude of salads, as a dip for snack-crunchies, and as an ingredient in more complex creations.
The Dutch employ it in the same way, but in keeping with their heretical nature have also innovated uses that are somewhat unusual.
Like FRIET OORLOG ("French Fries At War"). In which crispy strips of deep-fried spud are accompanied with peanut sauce ('pinda saus') on one side, mayonnaise on the other. With or without other condiments.
Often this is part of a wholesome and nutritious dinner that includes a frikandel-speciaal (with mayonnaise, curry-ketchup, and onions) OR a kroket, even a hefty dollop of stoof vlees saus (stew-meat gravy).
And you thought the French Canadians were nasty, with 'poutine'.
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Okay, now that you're stomach is no longer churning, I encourage you to try Dutch junk food when next you visit the Netherlands. It's much better than you think. And mayo on your fries is no stranger than potato salad.
The 'frikandel' is a skinless meat sausage which is deep fried, the 'kroket' is béchamel mixed with meat and flavourings, chilled, dipped and breaded, and plunged into hot oil.
The stoof vlees saus is best avoided.
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Personally, I would eschew the peanut sauce combos.
The Dutch chipper's version of "bumbu katjang" is usually rather appalling.
PEANUT SAUCE - VERSION ONE
One cup peanut butter.
Four TBS brown sugar.
Three TBS lemon or lime juice.
Two TBS soy sauce.
Half TBS chilipaste.
Two or three cloves garlic, minced.
Dash fish sauce.
A few drops of Chinese sesame oil.
Whisk all ingredients together with enough water to make it soupy (about two cups), and cook while stirring till it has achieved the consistency you like.
Let it cool a little before use, as it retains heat much better than you think.
PEANUT SAUCE - VERSION TWO
One small onion, minced.
Three cups coconut milk.
Two cups water.
One cup peanut butter.
Four TBS olive oil.
Two TBS each: sugar, fish sauce, lime juice.
Half TBS each: shrimp paste, chili paste, soy sauce.
Two Tsp ground coriander.
One Tsp each: paprika, turmeric, dry ginger.
Three to five cloves garlic, minced.
Small piece fresh ginger, minced.
Dash or jigger of Tabasco.
Gently fry the onion brown, then put in the shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, chilipaste, and dry spices. When good and fragrant, add the coconut milk and fish sauce, and cook till the oil comes out. Mix in the peanut butter, and while stirring, pour in the water. Cook for a few minutes more, and adjust pourability with water. Because you are using low heat, the whole process can take the better part of an hour.
Either version keeps for quite a while in the freezer - double or triple the quantities, cook till thick and let it cool down completely, then roll it as a sausage in plastic wrap, so that you can cut off the quantity you wish to use later.
You can use it in Pinda Brafoe (chicken and peanut soup served with tongtong fu bana), over crisped vegetables, on top of cooked string beans or asparagus, alongside grilled meat, as a dip, or even as a component of noodle dishes.
And also on your French Fries.
Unless you're allergic.
Try it with chunk-cut poached chicken (白切雞) over cold rice stick noodles and lettuce.
If you're Canadian, have it on your poutine.
Mayonnaise: what was blessedly provided for the wandering Dutch during their forty year journey across the estuarine swamp.
Oh wait, I'm thinking of a different narrative.
Frikandel: a tarted-up cousin of the meat ball consisting of double-ground meat mixed with powdered rusk, spices (primarily pepper and nutmeg), binders, herbs, and salt. It is rolled into a sausage form, dipped in fine-ground rusk crumbs, beaten egg white, rusk crumbs again, rested, then deep-fried. The meat used in a commercial frikandel is a blend of fatty pork, beef, and chicken
Kroket: the Dutch spelling of croquette. Delay a minute or two before biting into this, as it can burn right through the roof of your mouth and render you grunting for several days.
It is very delicious, better than fried cheese.
Poutine: fries covered with brown gravy and topped with fresh cheese curds. This was invented in Quebec. Not precisely haute cuisine, but definitely darn good, the stuff that warm memories are made of.
Best eaten at a truck stop.
Tongtong: dumplings or stiff wedge-cut cooked glop for sopping up the juices. Similar to matzoh balls. Surinamers use plantains as dumpling material, which is also common in Ghana and Dahomey. Tongtong fu bana (plantain dumplings) in pinda brafu (peanut soup) is a wonderful party dish sure to elicit cries of delighted recognition from not only your Surinamese guests, but also any West-Africans present. Just remember to use a good rich chicken broth as the base of the soup. A few fresh whole chilies floated in the soup during the last twenty minutes of cooking will add a resinous perfume but no heat - you may remove them carefully before serving.
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