There are a lot of things I miss here in Beijing, decent skincare, “normal” toilets, and my friends and family of course. But MOST of all I miss my home cuisine, and the ingredients that are easy to buy in Western supermarkets. I wanted to recreate some foods that my family in Beijing miss, share my recipes, and where to get the ingredients. If you see a blonde lady on a bike with a toddler and bags of groceries, that’s me, on the hunt for little pieces of home.
This time I searched for a true Dutch delicacy, stamppot (mash pot). This is a traditional Dutch dish of mashed potatoes and vegetables, literally mashed together. The Dutch eat it with brown gravy, sausage, and sometimes bacon. I decided to cook my favorite variation: boerenkool stamppot (farmer’s cabbage, kale). Boerenkool stamppot is the ultimate comfort food. Dutch people ate kale long before it got hip in the rest of the world. Its our staple vegetable.
In the Netherlands, prepared stamppot can be bought in supermarkets and at the butcher. Kale and other stamppot vegetables are found cut and washed in bags at the grocery store, especially in the winter. An array of smoked sausages can be found anywhere in The Netherlands (never sweet like in Beijing) but always nice and salty. I think the best smoked sausage in the Netherlands comes from Hema, my favorite department store when I visit home. My first job as a 14-year old girl was at Hema department store. I worked behind the meat counter and at the end of the night, we would eat all the left over warm smoked sausage.
In search for kale I found a lady at the Sanyuanli market who sells fresh kale. One day she asked what I was doing with all this kale, and I explained to her, with hand and feet that I mash it up in potatoes. When she sees me, she points at the kale and laughs.
I found a Dutchman in China who sells authentic smoked sausage and brings the taste of Dutch comfort food to China. Smoked sausage can be found on his online store http://www.dutchysnacks.com/
Boerenkool Stamppot can be prepared two ways: one way is to put the kale in a big pot with peeled potatoes on the top or underneath the kale, cook both until tender and mash them together. The other way is cooking the kale and potatoes separate then when both are cooked mash them together. I prefer the last one, since the kale and potatoes need different cooking times. Half of the Netherlands will disagree with my recipe, but try it and you will see that the kale will taste so much better not cooked to death.
1/2 kilo Kale
1 kilo Potatoes
250 grams bacon sliced into cubes
50 grams butter
50 ml warm milk
Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the kale. Trim the leaves and cut them.
- Peel and cut the potatoes to similar sizes.
- Boil the potatoes in water with salt until tender. Drain the water.
- Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter.
- In another pot render the bacon and remove from the pot, leave the bacon fat.
- In the bacon fat sauté the kale till tender, about 10 minutes.
- Fold together the mashed potatoes, kale, bacon and then heat up together.
- Serve with smoked sausage and brown gravy.
Pauline van Hasselt has just started working for Beijing Kids. Born in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, she moved with her husband and her 3 year-old daughter to Beijing in June of this year. Prior she lived in the Netherlands, Belgium, Paraguay, Texas, and London, studying and working as a chef. Pauline enjoys biking around Beijing, finding markets and new restaurants, reading crime and fantasy books in bed, and most importantly, turning her house into a home for her family.