There are certain Dutch joys that cannot be explained, such as after bicycling home from school, a cup of hot split pea soup in your gloveless, cold hands. Or sitting on the cold shoulder on the side of the canal, taking a break from skating, with a mug of hot chocolate and a gevulde koek. Going to oma's on Sunday and smelling the groentesoep on the stove....... 

Just simple things that make you happy to be alive. Often it's the memories that make the food special. Sometimes food doesn't have any memories, but it just tastes good. Like today's kibbeling.

The last time I recall eating kibbeling was at a fish vendor's cart on one of the many beaches that Holland is rich. I can't remember which one, or what business it was. All I remember was the sun on my face, the slight salty breeze in my hair and a plate of hot, greasy fish nuggets on my lap. Bliss!

For the batter, you can use milk, sparkling water, or beer.  

A fairly modern development with kibbeling is the use of a spice mix. Most fish vendors will have their own personalized mix, but there are a few commercial mixes on the market. The main ingredients are salt, white pepper, paprika, ground mustard, curry powder, nutmeg, onion powder, and dried herbs, such as dill or parsley. If you can't find any on the market, see if you can get a start with those ingredients. Season a piece of fish, batter and fry it, and see how it tastes. It may take a few times to get the right mix per your preference. Or see if your favorite fish vendor will sell you some of his or her own mix - doesn't hurt to ask.

2 lbs (1 kg) whiting or cod
1 cup (150 grams) flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
1/2 teaspoon dried dill or parsley
1 teaspoon paprika powder
Pinch of onion powder, dried mustard, curry
Kibbeling spice mix (see above)
Pinch of salt and pepper

For the remoulade dipping sauce:
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
2 dill pickles, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Dry the fish on both sides and cut into two-inch pieces. Dust the pieces with the spice mix, then with a tablespoon of the flour. Make a thick batter with the rest of the flour and milk, salt, and pepper. Add a little bit of milk if it's too thick.

Heat your fryer to 350F or heat oil in a cast-iron pan on the stove. Try a little piece of fish first: dip it in the batter and fry until golden. Taste it and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Put the rest of the fish in the batter, turn it over so that both sides are covered, and drop it in the hot oil, a few pieces at a time. Fry to a golden brown, remove from the oil, and place it on paper towels to drain the fat.

Mix the mayo with the capers, chopped pickles, and parsley. Taste. Adjust with salt and pepper if desired, and add a little bit of pickle juice if it's too thick.

Serve the pieces of kibbeling when they’re hot, and serve the dipping sauce on the side. Even kids will love the taste of this fried fish, so make plenty!



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