If there is one food item in the Netherlands that is more surprising than any other, it would have to be the kroket. This cylinder shaped, deep fried nugget with its soft, gooey inside and crispy, crunchy exterior can be found across the whole country – even at McDonalds in the form of a special McKroket.
Originally a French delicacy made from varying meat or vegetable content, the kroket became a way to use up leftover stewed meat in the 1800′s. Kroketten began to be mass produced, using beef, after World War II – gaining in popularity, to become a popular fast food item.
One name that helped with that popularity was Aat van Dobben. On June 28, 1945 Aat van Dobben opened with Eugenie Laaper (who would later become his wife) a deli in the heart of Amsterdam. The name of the company was Eetsalon Van Dobben. The original deli can still be visited today at Korte Regulierdwarsstraat 5, Amsterdam.
From the very beginning, the kroket was on the Eetsalon Van Dobben’s menu and quickly became a popular item. That popularity continued and spread. Research in 2008, alone, showed that around 350 million kroketten are still eaten in the Netherlands each year.
Each one is made from fresh meat (beef and veal are the most popular), flour, bouillon, butter and a selection of spices. For the non-meat eater there is also a vegetarian variety although it is not as widely available as its meatier cousins.
Whether you are grabbing your kroket from a fast food automat, having two Van Dobben’s on bread at a cafe or are frying up a whole basket of them for a party, there are a few tips you should know:
- If you are having your kroket in a bread bun, making it a broodje kroket, then it is usual practise to squash the kroket flat inside the bun.
- Squashing the kroket can make things a little messy, so be well prepared to do damage control.
- Some venues have new special kroket bread rolls made by Van Dobben (one of the most famous kroketten brands). The rolls are shaped similar to half a circle and are flatter than your average bread roll. These have been made specially to make the squashing process less messy.
- While many people eat their kroket with a little bit of sauce (mayonnaise or sometimes even mustard) this should never be automatically done in front of someone important in the kroket world – e.g. the factory owner. The kroket should be first tasted and savoured for its quality rather than drowning it in sauce.