Patatje speciaal
America has its food trucks, and Holland has its patatkramen. An oasis of all things fried in a quiet neighborhood, or a small shack on the daily market, the patatkraam is usually the neighborhood gathering place around dinner time, and a favorite place to grab a quick snack or a greasy lunch.

Kids will come in and order "french fries for five euros" and will be handed a large family size paper bag filled to the rim with golden fried potatoes to take home and have it served as the starch for dinner. The glass case is filled with raw or precooked meat items such as hotdogs, frikandellen, kroketten, bitterballen, bereklauwen, all piled up in neat stacks from which to choose.

And the fries do not come without choice either: whereas the shape may vary only slightly (steak fries, french fries or shoestring), the amount of sauces and condiments to douse these golden spears with is vast: apart from the traditional mayonnaise (just try it), you can also choose curry ketchup (a spiced up type of ketchup), tomato ketchup, mustard, piccalilli, peanut sauce, joppiesaus (a fairly newcomer to the market of fry sauces, it's flavored with yellow curry). ...and then there are ofcourse the combinations: patatje met ( "fries with", meaning fries with mayo), patatje oorlog ("war fries": fries with mayo, peanut sauce and chopped onion), patatje speciaal (mayo, curry ketchup and chopped onion), patatje stoofvlees (french fries with a savory stewed beef sauce).....
Patatje oorlog

Patat is the generic name for the fries, patatje means a single serving. Fries are served in either a paper cone bag, or a white plastic shallow tray. The cone will allow you to tear the paper as you eat, so your hands don't get dirty from the sauce(s) as you pick at the fries with a small wooden pronged tool. If you have fries served on a plate, it's perfectly okay to eat them using your fingers.

Fries are traditionally prepared in ossewit (beef tallow) or less commonly so, horse fat. During the seventies, the saturated fats were replaced by vegetable fat such as Diamant, and most patatkramen stepped away from the tallow. It impacted the fry fat industry positively, and a myriad of television ads appeared, praising the qualities of vegetable fat and pushing moms to serve patat at least once a week. To this day, Wednesday's dinner is usually patat with a side choice.

The secret to crispy, golden french fries is to fry the taters twice. Once to par-fry them, if you will, then let them rest, and finish it off with a second fry to crisp the outer skin and bring out the golden colors. The traditional potato to use for fries is the Bintje. In the United States, choose a white or yellow potato, preferably starchy, like a Russet, since Bintjes are practically non-existent here. Since beef tallow is hard to come by, use canola oil for frying instead.

4 large Russet potatoes
Canola oil

Peel the potatoes and slice in inch thick slices, then cut in strips. Heat the oil to 325F. Rinse the potatoes (removing some of the starch will prevent the fries browning prematurely and ending up with a bitter taste) and dry in a cotton towel. Fry in small batches until lightly golden. Remove from the oil and rest the potatoes in a colander for about 25 minutes, then heat the oil to 375F and fry again, in small batches, until the fries are golden. Toss with salt.

Serve immediately.


  1. Hans-from-CuraçaoMay 25, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    Five euros? Goodness me! I am from the time that a 'patat zonder' (=without sauce) costed 45 'old' guilder cents (=nowadays 20 euro cents) and 'patat met' (=including mayonnaise) was 45 guilder cents.... and the 'snack bar' was three houses away from my home and on the same side of the street! So my mother allowed me to go by myself....

  2. Hans-from-CuraçaoMay 25, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    And I presume, Nicole, that the 'Russian potatoes' you talk about come close to the "Bintje" normally used for this product?

  3. Hans, how times have changed! I even remember the patat met being 25 cents. Our patatkraam was a couple of blocks away, but we too were allowed to go by ourselves. And on the way home, we'd take the long way and sneak hot fries out of the bag haha so by the time we arrived home, the bag would be half empty and we'd be full! The Russet potato is an Idaho potato, and very common here in the United States. It's used for most McDonald's fries, and it does come closest to the Bintje, very true!

  4. Hans-from-CuraçaoMay 25, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    Remember, I was born in the "Randstad", so prices were higher than around you in Limburg... and of course (it was early in the morning when I typed this), the prices were 40 c for 'zonder', 45 for 'met'.... By the way, at present I pay at the 'Hollandse snackbar' here on Curaçao - operated by a proud Surinamese couple - 5.50 Antillian Guilders for a 'patat speciaal' (=mayo, ketchup and chopped onions), which is at present about € 2.18 or about US$ 3....

  5. For me (hi, it's Hedwig!), 'friet' was a rare treat growing up, as my mum wasn't convinced it was proper nutritional food for her growing brood...but then, she's 'Indisch' and so I grew up on 'rijsttafel', which is a treat to most other Dutch people (and therefore, a clear example of swings and roundabouts). I do remember a 'patatje' didn't cost the earth, though...

  6. Patat is delicious, the Dutch are genious with making something so simple taste so good.

  7. It really should be "Friet", not patat, but well. That's a discussion that apparently has gone on for decades now so.. :)

    Anyway... Patatje oorlog is by far the best way to eat patat. Of course in school we couldn't help but come up with all kinds of variations we then had the local snackbar make (and some of them even made it to their menu board). Here's a couple I remember eating:
    - Patatje Kernoorlog (Nuclear War), consists of mayo, (curry) ketchup, peanut sauce and onions.
    - Patatje Golfoorlog (Gulf War), mayo, peanut sauce, mustard and onions.
    - Patatje Vietnamoorlog (Vietnam War), mayo, peanut sauce, sambal (spicy red pepper paste) and onions.

    That also reminds me of 10 years or so ago when one of the Ministers in the Dutch parliament proclaimed that "Patatje oorlog" had a negative tone, so he wanted to rename it to "Patatje Feest" (Party Fries). This resulted in a lot of laughter and this idea thankfully didn't stick around to long :)

  8. If you would do some research, about what kind of potato actually makes a perfect *patat*, you will find that that specific potato is NOT available here in the USA. A long time ago, I found an article, that described the specific qualities a good Patat Potato MUST have. I wish I kept that article ...

  9. The perfect American potato is the Kennebec.

    The perfect potato cannot have too much sugar because it gets too dark to quickly.


  10. How about a peanut sauce recipe to go with this?

    1. You'll find one under the Sate Babi link - or click here:

  11. oh, how I miss them. Beef tallow is aka lard, but you might try peanut oil because it has a higher flash point. The pre-fry is at a much higher temp like 450F, the finish 350F. My dad worked in a "patatzaak" in Holland op Kudelstaart when I grew up there. What I miss even more are Frikandellen. My dad also made "Oliebollen" voor nieuwjaars. There is a really hilarious episode in the show Lucifer on Netflix in season two that talks about Dutch food snacks from a truck on a California beach. I laughed for a week.


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