Our dear and longtime family friends are Dutch and told me that I had to have the Indonesian meal called rijsttafel, or "rice table." I was familiar with this Dutch inspired Indonesian meal that features many small dishes. At the center of this multi-dish feast is freshly steamed rice and deep fried shrimp flavored chips called krupuk. I had rijsttafel before in the Boston area and, of course, at our Dutch friend's home. Interestingly enough, there are very few, if any, Indonesian restaurants in Greater Boston an area that encompasses over 4,000 square miles and about 4.4 million people. We are becoming quite a foodie destination here in Boston, but there's barely an Indonesian restaurant and no rijsttafel.
The first rijsttafel dinner we enjoyed was in Amsterdam with my 7th grade French teacher who flew in from Lausanne, Switzerland to meet us and her friend, a native of Amsterdam. As we were planning our meeting via email I asked if we could have rijsttafel together. I'm so glad I did because we ended up at a marvelous little restaurant - 3 generations old, and in a part of Amsterdam we would never have found ourselves. The meal was absolutely wonderful! 14 various dishes encompassing meats, seafood, vegetables, pickles, chutneys, rice and krupuk ( one of my favorite). I took some photos, but what's missing is that incredible spicy aroma and rich flavor that permeated every dish. I loved the different textures, temperatures, spiciness and tastes. Yum!
If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam and want to experience rijsttafel here's the restaurant. I highly recommend it, but be sure to make reservations. The place was packed when we were there.
Utrechsestraat 75, 1017 VJ Amsterdam
Tel: 020-625 67 18
We enjoyed the meal so much that while we were in Delft ( to be in the hometown of the painter Johannes Vermeer), we had another rijsttafel dinner. This time it was just the two of us, but the meal was as delicious as the one we had in Amsterdam. Our delightful waitress was from Canada and she was studying and working her way to a graduate degree and hoped to remain in Holland afterwards to work.
One popular dish that appeared in both rijsttafel dinners was Gado Gado. It's really easy to make and perfect warm weather food. You must also try and find krupuk because once you taste it you can't just eat one chip. They are addictive! A must at a rijsttafel, but they al make excellent hors d'oeuvres.
I'll give you a recipe for Gado Gado and tell you how to fry krupuk tomorrow! Until then, you'll just have to dream about the food.....
|(Clockwise starting at left) Noodles, pork, sauteed greens, marinated beef, salad.|
|Medley of Dishes and Sides at a Rijsstafel|
|4 sides, including Indonesian fried rice, krupuk and Dutch beer.|
|Table with 14 different dishes!|
|Gado Gado - Blanched vegetables with a peanut butter sauce|
|Curried Eggs and Toasted Coconut Shreds with Peanuts|
|Rice, Lemon Grass Chicken and Pickled Vegetables|
|Beef with Star Anise|
|Sauteed Green Beans|
|Me...starting to chow down on satay!|