FRIED BEAR CLAW
[The term 'adventurous' can also be read to mean 'insane'.]
Years ago this became apparent when hordes of vacationing Dutchmen in Thailand demanded that the internet provide accurate recipes for Frikandel: a staf or sausage-like object of finely ground meat, extenders, and spices, which after cooking is served hot with condiments, or dressed-up in a hotdog bun.
It is about two thirds meat, the remainder being fat, starch, binders, vegetable and industrial byproducts, etcetera.
Dipped in beaten egg, then covered with fine bread or rusk crumbs.
Deep-fried till dark brown with a thin crust.
Juicy, and great with mustard.
A key ingredient, surprisingly, is ground nutmeg.
It is delicious, but not available in the U.S.
Travelling 'Ollanders were desperate.
Crazy and quite drunk as well.
At night, in Thailand.
HOT, ZESTY, AND FULL OF LIFE!
Then there's the 'berenklauw'. Bear claw, literally. Thick slices of pre-cooked meatball alternating with equally thick slices of onion on a bamboo skewer, deep-fried, and served with spicy peanut sauce. And also sometimes made at home. Many Dutch households have deep-fry capability.
Without a personal deep-fryer it will be done by seething the meatball in hot fat before slicing it, and the onion rings will be browned in the remaining grease and dumped on top. As with many Dutch snacks, peanut sauce is essential.
So is the presence, in both ball and sauce, of chili pepper, often used in its native guise of 'sambal', that being the mashed up bright red paste available in every Dutch grocery or supermarket. Huy Fong, makers of Sriracha, provide a splendid sambal oelek here in California, and there are diverse brands imported from Asia and Den Haag.
The appearance of the browned meatbal wedges resembles a splayed bear paw, hence the name. There is NO actual bear in the dish. I stress this, because many English speakers are frightful literalists.
Below is a quick recipe for peanut sauce. I shan't give instructions for meatballs, as you can simply make your own version, modifying grandma's recipe with a pinch of five spice, nutmeg, and sambal, as necessary.
But do use fatty meat; that lean crap ain't worth eating.
Four TBS smooth peanut butter.
Three TBS cane sugar.
Two TBS soy sauce.
One TBS sambal.
One onion, minced.
Two to four cloves garlic, minced.
Pinch of ground coriander.
One cup of water.
Dash of oil for the pan.
Saute the onion till well gilded. Add sambal and ground coriander, fry till fragrant, add all other ingredients except the water, stir to incorporate. Then gently bit by bit start adding the water. Be careful, as the peanut sauce can be burning hot and may spatter painfully. It is ready when it has become a smoothly pourable gloop. Serve warm.
A squeeze of lime juice may be added.
[Peanut sauce recipes are also here: queer Dutch condiment.]
As far as presentation, the less said about how the fried bear claw is served in a snackbar after the bars close, the better. Suffice to mention that fries are part of the program. Personally I prefer a mound of rice with my two skewers, and chunks of cucumber on the side.
As well as a dash of fish sauce.
Pinda derives via Sranantongo (a creole language in Dutch Guyana) from West African (Niger-Congo) terms for peanut, probably either Kongo 'mpinda' or Gabonese 'péndá'. A similar word is used in some parts of the former British West-Indies.
Sambal is cognate with Sinhalese 'sambol', probably deriving from an early Trade Malay term for chilipeppers. In modern usage both of these words refer to a condiment made by mashing red peppers, but in Dutch, Malay, and Indonesian usage 'sambal' also applies to cooked side dishes in which the spiciness is the defining element.
Technically, the Texan chili con carne (without beans) is a fairly mild sambal. Or an overcooked relative of rendang, made with prut.
Kind of like 'hachee'.
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