Note: if you're new here, I should at this point emphasize that I am in no way anti-German or anti-German food...I'm just anti-German food photography. And not all the time, either. Mostly just this one book I had for awhile (see previous post). It was gross. And I don't mean "big".
I crashed all these ingredients into each other because Mara left a pile of nice tomatoes behind before she went on vacation, and come lunchtime I was mutha-hungry with only smoked salmon in sight. The end result was fugly but nice. My breath, on the other hand, is now somewhere between ruined and chloroform.
[Illustration used without permission from Slate.]
smoked salmon salad.
200g smoked salmon
2 medium cornichons, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tbsp capers
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly cracked pepper to taste
I just assembled everything except the salmon and put slices of salmon on a plate with the salad over top of it. I would've eaten all of it over arugula if I'd had any or the strength to go find some. Other additions that would've been nice (maybe not all together): horseradish, roasted red pepper, walnuts, walnut oil, dill. Chickpeas? Du Puy lentils? The way it is, it would've been perfecto on a nice crusty pistolet, but there's that bread vacation that I'm on to consider.
I mean this in the nicest way, but...this photo could really only be European, couldn't it? Specifically...yes, German!!!
In other words, the above is not something I'm responsible for having cooked.
We had this fantastic, ghastly book in America called German Home Cooking, or Modern German Cooking, or something equally promising, and all of the pictures in it are at least this puke-inducing, both in the presentation and consistency of the foods and the morgue/autopsy lighting and styling to which they were subjected. Except that, additionally, most of the dishes include things that are actually far grosser than surimi and, uh..."salmon pate" (is what we'll call that puddle of muck) in the photo above. I'm talking about, yes...brains, organs, feet, ears, you name it. "How you say, eet ees vat zee leetle cow seenks viz."
It was a gift, that book. In that it was given to us. Never did cook out of it much, for some reason.
Anyway, before I get to the second spine-tingling installment of Indonesian sandwiches, I have a brief imitation-food-related interruption: what exactly is surimi, and why do I like it?
I think I eat it because it reminds me of crab salad, which reminds me of mayonnaise, which I like to be reminded of.
I guess the good news is that it's not too bad for you. I may try to unearth some surimi recipes that don't sound freaky. I just make I "crab salad" with it historically, but there's the mayo issue, as you're aware. The Dutch do some very, well...Dutch things with it, you know...putting it in a salad with cashews and avocado, or doing a surimi stir fry. To me this kind of "practical creativity" seems very common to cultures that don't have a refined, respected cooking tradition. Since the rules are so under-emphasized, you're not scared to make mistakes and you can basically throw together anything you want to. Of course, mistakes are made...sometimes you even get to pay for them in restaurants.
Surimi fasolatido? Think solfege, baby...just like you always do.
Do they sell software that generates interesting titles for blog entries without you having to be involved?
Posting frequency has fallen off around here because I overcooked myself in May and June. Cooked out is what I am. So, I've mostly been eating extremely simply: broiled fish or gyoza 60% of the time. Oh, I know what else we were eating the other 40% of the time: sandwiches. Indonesian sandwiches. Primarily fish. Let me explain, hurriedly and with little regard for the creative turn of phrase (I'll revise later).
What I want to do here is investigate the evolution of immigrant cooking here in The Netherlands, specifically the cuisines of the former colonies, Indonesia and Suriname. As far as I can tell there's no page on the web that explains this in English. Here's a Dutch version, and here's a more professionally researched version that focuses more specifically on the Chinese side of things. Until I have time to write something with more detail, I'll try to summarize via a massive simplification (i just watched Adaptation again yesterday and am currently imagining myself compressing eons of history into mere seconds worth of typing).
Let's start with Indonesia: after the second World War, Indonesia was granted its independence from Holland after having been a Dutch colony since the 17th century. 250,000 Indonesians came to Holland to repatriate themselves. Well, rewind a bit: by this point the Dutch were already vaguely familiar with Asian cuisine because, around 1918, small Chinese communities began to emerge in the port cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, mostly stokers who worked on the large steam ships of that time.
This population got a boost after 1919, when Great Britain amended the Aliens Restriction Act of 1914, and Chinese seamen were no longer entirely welcome on British soil, so they ended up in Dutch ports (their numbers growing to almost 3000 Chinese before shrinking again during the Second World War). Eventually Chinese teahouses and restaurants emerged, thus introducing the Dutch to the first truly foreign cuisine they'd encountered on their own soil.
So, back to the 250,000 Indonesians (some of whom were Indonesian Chinese, to further confuse the issue). Well, the Dutch Indonesians came, brought their culinary culture with them, and eventually opened up restaurants and shops. It didn't hurt that thousands of Dutch soldiers had been stationed in Indonesia and grew very fond of the food there. The returning Dutch soliders took their friends and families to eat at these restaurants. This happened so long ago, and so early on in the evolution of "eating out" in Holland, that by 2005 Indonesian food is not even really considered foreign here.
The point of all this is that, as in many ex-colonial relationships, the Dutchified Indonesian kitchen has evolved to accommodate some long-standing preferences of the Nederbelly. Some of these adaptations are to be expected (bigger portions, fewer chiles), but some are a bit unusual (Belgian frites with Indonesian peanut sauce and mayonnaise is a popular way to eat fries...not really so unusual in concept--think gado gado--but it's surprising at first to see people carrying cones of fries with an unrecognizable brown goo on them).
Which at last, almost brings me to Indonesian-Surinamese sandwiches. In Java or Bali the common accompaniements to fish, meat, and soy dishes are either nasi or bami (rice or noodles), right? Well, sandwich culture has had significant mindshare here for a long long time (I'll explain the boterham in another post). And so, one of the ways you can eat your Indo-Chinese fish/meat/veg dish is on a sandwich instead of with rice or noodles.
OK. Part 2 to follow. You know, the part where I actually talk about the sandwiches.