Tag Archives: dutch?

Kindergarten bento – Dutch Sweet & Sour Chicken (Monday, 28/May/18)

Dutch Sweet & Sour Chicken for my daughter’s bento, the leftover from the dinner party.

We had some guests over for dinner on Sunday, and I cooked Dutch Sweet & Sour Chicken which recipe I got from my Dutch mother-in-law. Whenever I tell our guests I cooked a “Dutch” dish their faces go blank – Dutch kitchen is not widely known, and people just have no idea what to expect.

This Sweet & Sour Chicken is also not a traditional Dutch dish, but is a modern interpretation of historical backgrounds of the Dutch. It has some influence from Indonesia as well as West Indies, and of course The Netherlands. It is actually a complex dish, just like their history can be, and usually people cannot figure out exactly what’s inside apart from the main ingredients (chicken, tomato and curry).

If you’re interested, here is the rough recipe I posted a while ago.

Dutch Christmas holiday 2017

Over the past Christmas holiday, we visited my husband’s family and relatives in the Netherlands. After about 18 hours since the departure, we safely arrived at my husband’s mother’s place in the south of the Netherlands, two days before Christmas, where the year-end chaos back in Tokyo felt like distant past. I love the quiet, serene, family focused and heartwarming atmosphere of European Christmas, which is quite different from what we have in Japan (more commercialised with strong attention to romantic setting, in some cases involving expensive jewelry and an overnight stay at a luxury hotel). The following day on Christmas eve, we were ready to kickstart the festive season to begin, only to find out our poor girl got some tummy bug somewhere along the way and had to give a miss to all the Christmas celebrations. Luckily, a few days later she was fully recovered, and all of us resumed to enjoy our time-off.

After our rather miserable Christmas, the three of us were invited by the mother of my husband’s Dutch friend, who lives in the small village close to the city called Tilburg. The farm house where she lived was filled with holiday atmosphere with handmade Christmas decorations all over the place. Our daughter’s eyes widened with excitement as she walked into the front door. The house was warm, kind, and sparkly, just like an old house you’d see in a fairly tale. In her lovely kitchen there was a large pot heated in the gas stove, and whatever inside it gave an amazing and appetizing aroma of winter dish along with the heaping steam coming out of it. The candles were lit, the dinner table was perfectly set, we were all seated, and it was time for the dinner to be served… And I was dumbstruck when the lid was opened – I just didn’t expect how it would look like, and I couldn’t resist myself taking a photo. Voila, this is as hardcore Dutch as it can be – the famous Dutch “Stamppot.”

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This was followed by delicious vegan Rhubarb Crumble, which apparently was not necessarily a traditional Dutch dessert. Nevertheless, it was absolutely divine. I wish I didn’t eat the second potion of the gigantic sausage so that I could eat more of this amazing dessert.

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Talking about the traditional Dutch delicacy, they have this pudding like, or maybe more like custard type of dessert called Vla. To me, it’s like eating vanilla (or cocoa) cream that usually comes with spongy cake, but any Dutch people I’ve met strongly insist Vla is not cream nor pudding, but is Vla. OK then, it is Vla. Well, our half-Dutch daughter loves it, especially when mixing vanilla & chocolate Vla before eating. During this holiday, she’s had it numerous times, including her last cup of Vla 10 minutes before leaving her Oma’s place back to Tokyo.

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Kindergarten bento – Sandwich disaster (21/Sep/17)

I hardly pack sandwiches for my daughter’s lunch. I have a reason for it; I’m afraid of overfeeding bread for our girl. Having a Dutchman in our household, we have bread for breakfast, almost everyday. We eat thin slices of bread and/or buns, with accompaniments such as cheese (preferably Gouda), ham, jam, unsweetened peanut butter, and this heavenly chocolate sprinkles called “Hagelslag” that the most of Dutch people love. If I have time I’d serve fruits and yogurt, but my husband is happy as long as there is bread on our breakfast table.

Anyway, as a very rare occasion I ended up buying sandwich slices at a bakery nearby yesterday, since all the other bread was sold out (anyone from Central Tokyo, you may want to check out this tiny but beautiful bakery called Panetteria Kawamura). And this made me think of making sandwiches for lunch for a change. I thought it would be easy and quick, and I could even save some time in the morning.

The part of making sandwiches was easy, how can it not be, but the real problem was with packing. I cut the sandwiches into quarters so that it would be small enough for my little girl to hold it with one hand and is also visually appealing. But the sandwiches kept falling apart when I tried to pack them while attempting to hold them up vertically. I’ve seen it many times in various bakeries where they are packed nicely and standing straight in a plastic sandwich box. I didn’t realise how hard it was to pack bread in a neat manner. There must be a trick for it, but I couldn’t figure it out today.

As a result, instead of saving time, I totally ran behind schedule and had to rush like a headless chicken to get ready to walk my daughter to school.

Menu: Sandwiches (fillings: Ham, Cheese & Appelstroop,  Scrambled egg & Cucumber, and Strawberry jam), Mashed pumpkin with chicken soboro, Sausage, Steamed broccoli, Cherry tomato

Japanese Nashi pear for dessert

Dutch lunch party (Sunday, 9/Apr/17)

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.