My daughter’s school has been closed for spring break for the past two and a half weeks, and it will finally start again tomorrow. In Japan the new school year starts in April, so it’s kind of a big deal for children as well as their parents/caretakers in order to bring our mindset back to the new school routines.
To finish up the last day of the spring break in style, we threw a small lunch party at home, inviting a few of our daughter’s best friends and their parents from the kindergarten. Since we wanted to put some special touch to it, we went for a Dutch theme (my husband is from the Netherlands).
We started off with the appetizer of Dutch sandwich. I said to him it might be better to cut them into small pieces, but he said this was the Dutch way. Yes, very bold.
(Photo in courtesy of T. S.)
My husband is from the region called Limburg in the south, bordering Germany and Belgium, where the culinary culture is more elaborate compared to the north. In Limburg, they use this incredibly divine yet underestimated paste-like syrup made from apples called Appelstroop. They spread it on a thin slice of bread (with butter underneath it usually), and place either sliced Gouda cheese or sliced ham on top.
This is the Appelstroop we use from the brand called Timson Rinse.
The texture of Appelstroop is like world-famous Veggie Mite or Marmite, but its taste is sweet and rich, a bit like thick honey but with more fruity aftertaste. It’s high in iron (and sugar), and is a great match when paired with something salty. According to my husband, they put a bit of Appelstroop in the rabbit stew they eat for Christmas in the Limburg region. They also use it as the spread for the pancakes just like Nutella or fruits jam.
We love Appelstroop so much we personally import it from the Netherlands. If you are interested, here is the link to the shopping site called Holland For You that we use regularly.
After the simple but fulfilling appetizer, the main course is what we call “Sweet Sour Chicken,” inspired by Indonesian cuisine. Just in case you are wondering, Indonesia is a former Dutch colony, and there are many Indonesian ingredients and recipes still available all across the Netherlands.
(Photo in courtesy of T. S.)
According to the recipe passed down from my mother-in-law, she uses this ready-made Pineapple Curry sauce for her Sweet Sour Chicken. Due to the difficulty to obtain it in Japan, in lieu of the sauce I use fresh pineapple, curry powder and yogurt, all mixed in the blender like smoothie. This time I forgot to put yogurt, but it tasted all right. She also uses so-called “ketjap” sauce which apparently is the Indonesian spicy soy sauce. Instead, it was replaced with Japanese soy sauce blended with some balsamico vinegar.
The dish tastes a bit like mild chicken curry with some tomato sauce as its base, and the excellent mixuture of sweetness from pineapple and sourness from vinegar at the same time. If anyone is intrigued, have a look at the recipe here. Sweet Sour Chicken goes very well with Jasmin rice or Brown rice.
After the nice long lunch with a few bottles of wine for grownups and Mugi-cha (barley tea) for kids, I think we are fully ready for a fresh kick-start of the new school year tomorrow.