The Dutches love snacking. You can find a yummy hapjes (snacks) in bars called kaastengel, but if you go to the bakery, you can find also a salty cheese pastry called kaasstengel. What is what?
Kaastengels, a fried cheese stick to dip in chili sauce
That could be a easy explanation of what we are talking about. In a spaniard’s sight, they seem like small crepes (of the size of a finger) filled with gouda or edam cheese, which have been fried and are always presented with a small bowl plenty of a spicy chili sauce. When you bite them, the cheese is usually melt, soft and warm. That cheese inside can be be old (oude kaas), which is more intense, or young cheese (jonge kaas), more soft and creamy, but in both cases is always lekker (read the last Curiositie if you want to understand this word!)
If you want to taste something dutch but you are not a big meal-adventurer, this will be the best invest. Easy, lovely and not really expensive, you can find them in almost every bar with a kitchen. Don’t hesitate!
Kaastengels and kaasstengels, do not mistake!
At first sight, this two words seem identical but… they aren’t! And, what is more important: this spelling difference has a meaning reason. Thanks to the comment that Dirk left in the blog (you can read it below), I discovered that kaas-tengel means “cheese-fingers”, while kaas-stengel means “cheese-sticks” and, as you can imagine, they’re not the same. Kaastengels, the ones above, don’t come from a traditional recipie but from a registered brand formula, while kaasstengels, the ones on the right, are a traditional puff pastry and cheese on top than can usually be bought in bakeries.
So, just guessing, I think kaastengels were probably created to mix some of the dutch guilty pleasures (cheese, loempias and tapas) in just one thing. And, as an habitual consumer, I should say I do like it was done! 🙂
Kaasstengels, a popular salty cookie also in Indonesia
The Netherlands had a huge power during the colonial era and, probably, one of its most valuable colony was Indonesia, which was called the “Dutch East Indies”. The first Dutches arrived to the archipelago at the ending of XVI century and, until Indonesia reached its independence in 1949, Batavia (nowadays, Jakarta), all its depending lands were a Netherlands’ Property.
As in all colony processes, both traditional cuisines were influenced one by each other. Still nowadays, some habitual dutch dishes come directly from the indonesian tradition (loempias, satés…), as others are are still enjoyable today in the Netherlands but not in Indonesia (it’s the case of rijsttafel, which disappeared there because locals associated it to the colonialism). The conquistadors brought there foodstuff such as cheese, butter or pancakes, and some other recipes which has remained in Indonesian cook books until nowadays.
But, how is all these related to kaasstengels? Reading around on the Internet (you will find some links below), I discovered that there are lots of Indonesian foodies that share the kaasstengel recipe as a traditional dish, and as they say, it was imported by the Dutches during the colonitzation. According to their comments, kaasstengels are present in any family Indonesian holiday meals, such as “Lebaran” (a national holiday to celebrate the end of the Ramadan), Christmas or the Lunar New Year, and they are always a good mate of a cup of tea.
And, I’ll tell you something more to loop the loop: sometimes, Indonesian people spell the word in a different way (the third in this article): kastengels. Funny, uhm? 😉
Why do the dutches enjoy so much snacking?
If you are introduced in the dutch eating timetable, you would know that here it’s usual to eat frequently in small quantities until dinner, which is considered the most important meal (and the warm one). The dutches usually have a light lunch around 12 o’clock, consisting in a soup or a salade, and a broodje or sandwich.
Considering this, it’s just impossible to reach the dinner at 8 pm without being pretty hungry, so maybe this is the reason why they are always snacking. Kaastengels are a really nice option to eat in-between meals, specially after work and before dinner, as well as bitterballen or fries are. But, sometimes, you can also find in bars spanish specialities, such as “croquetas”, “tortilla” or “fuet”. What I still don’t understand is why “patatas bravas” have not conquered their menukaart yet, given that potatoes are a main element in their kitchen. If one day “bravas” land here, I hope they will be like the ones of Bar Tomas in Barcelona.
Curious about the Indonesian recipe for kaasstengels, aka kastengels?
Here you are some links in English!
And, here, in Indonesian!