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You don’t need an expensive new piece of equipment, or an obscure ingredient you have to hunt for. You just need a fresh way of preparing an old favorite. In “One Way,” we’ll revisit classic ingredients and dishes, giving them a new twist with an easy technique you haven’t tried before.
“Do you have any good local recommendations for dinner?” I had asked the front desk person at my hotel. He pointed in the direction of the nearby canal and an Italian restaurant. I should mention here that this conversation did not take place in Venice. I was in Amsterdam. I pressed the clerk further. “I’m looking for authentic Dutch food,” I explained. “Why?” he replied drily. “Do you like potatoes?” Even the Dutch are not effusive about Dutch cuisine.
I have been spending a month in the Netherlands, in a university city that is as vibrant and cosmopolitan as any hungry person could wish. There are poke bowl places and pizza joints; there are French bakeries and American burger spots. The Dutch may be modest about their own food, but they are not tepid eaters. Perhaps then it’s not surprising that their greatest epicurean enthusiasm is for the food of their former colonies, and the Surinamese and Indonesian dishes that are common on dinner tables here.
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Wandering my local supermarket aisle, it didn’t take long to take stock of the abundant international ingredients and realize that when in the Netherlands, it’s wise to do as the Dutch… and eat Indonesian.
Mie goreng is the fried noodle dish for people who could live on fried noodles — easy, fast, limitlessly customizable and just really salty-spicy-sticky-sweet good. After a recent long, exhausting day, I made this with ramen and pre-shredded cabbage and went from putting my key in the door to sitting down to dinner in 15 minutes. Eggs are traditional in it, and I am just lazy enough to do them carbonara-style here rather than cooking them separately. And while the dish usually stars chicken, I couldn’t resist adding a slight nod to my temporary home and topping mine with some local smoked salmon. It’s a street food classic that’s right at home anywhere — whether that’s your own home, or your home away from home.
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Inspired by Recipes Indonesia and Choosing Chia
True Indonesian noodles use a dark, savory sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. If you can’t get your hands on it, substitute 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, or 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and brown sugar.
You can improvise with any vegetables you like and have on hand. Shredded carrots, snow peas, celery or bok choy would be delicious.
of our best budget-friendly noodle dishes
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Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of “A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles.”
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