“Do you have any good local recommendations for dinner?” I had asked the front desk worker at my hotel. He pointed in the direction of the nearby canal and an Italian restaurant. I should mention here that this conversation did not take place in Venice. I was in Amsterdam. I pushed the clerk further. “I’m looking for authentic Dutch eat,” I explained. “Why?” he answered dryly. “Do you like potatoes?” Even the Dutch are not exuberant about Dutch cuisine.
I spent a month in the Netherlands, in a university city that is as vibrant and cosmopolitan as a hungry person could wish for. There are poke bowl places and pizza places; there are French bakeries and American burger joints. The Dutch may be modest about their own food, but they are not lukewarm eaters. Perhaps it is therefore not surprising that their greatest enthusiasm for bon vivants lies in the food of their former colonies and the Surinamese and Indonesian dishes that are common on the dining tables here.
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As I walked down the aisle of my local grocery store, it didn’t take long to take stock of the abundant international ingredients and realize that in the Netherlands it’s wise to do as the Dutch do…and eat Indonesian.
Noodle Goreng is the fried noodle dish for people who can live off fried noodles – easy, fast, infinitely customizable and just really salty-spicy-sticky-sweet good. After a recent long tiring day, I made this with ramen and pre-shredded cabbage and sat in the door in 15 minutes from my key to eat. Eggs are traditional and I’m just lazy enough to put them here carbonara style instead of cooking them separately. And while the dish is usually starred with chicken, I couldn’t resist adding a little nod to my temporary home and stuffing mine with some local smoked salmon. It’s a street food classic that belongs everywhere – whether that’s your own home or your home away from home.
Inspired by Indonesia and Choosing Chia Recipes
Spicy Weekday Mie Goreng (Indonesian Fried Noodles)
- 1 pack of ramen noodles or 3 ounces of egg noodles
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (see cook’s notes)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 3 sliced spring onions
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1 red chilli of your favorite heat (I like Thai chillies here)
- 1/3 cup shredded red or white cabbage
- 1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced and seeded
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4-6 ounces smoked salmon, shredded rotisserie chicken, sliced ham, or diced tofu
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, kecap manis, and ketchup.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the garlic, scallions, and onions and cook, stirring gently, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, bell pepper and other vegetables you are using and continue cooking.
- Add the noodles and mix everything well.
- Stir in the eggs to cook them quickly.
- Add the sauce and stir well, letting everything brown and taste for another minute. Remove from fire.
- Stir in your egg white or serve it alongside the noodles. Eat immediately. Cold leftovers are great for lunch.
True Indonesian noodles use a dark, savory sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. If you can’t get it, substitute 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, or 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and brown sugar.
You can improvise with whatever vegetables you like and have on hand. Grated carrots, snow peas, celery or bok choy would be delicious.
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