Friday, July 25, 2008

Pastel Tutup by Erique Fat Owl

Pastel Tutup
with blanched green asparagus, sauerkraut, and tomato puree

-> Pretty, yes? The ribbon is especially bought from La Droguerie in Tokyo (I bought it from their IKSPIARI shop in Urayasu)! La Droguerie is a famous ribbon shop in Japan.

Retro Indonesian colonial dish!

Pastel Tutup is a quintessential Dutch-Indonesian-Chinese dish. It literally means "Closed Pie", and the Dutch call it Vless Pastei. My family has been consuming this dish since like, forever - and it serves as a symbol of our heritage: Dutch, Indonesian, and Chinese.

Note that this dish is NOT popular in the Netherlands itself - but Dutch people with connection to the Dutch East India Company (who colonized Indonesia for 350 years, until 1945 or 1949 depending on how you look at it) might be aware of this unique Dutch-Indonesian-Chinese fusion dish.

I guess the closest thing this dish resembles is that of Shepherd's Pie - in the sense that the crust is made of mashed potato. This dish is very popular in Indonesia, especially among Holland Spreken Chinese-Indonesian families (Holland Spreken is a Dutch-Indonesian creole word, meaning "Dutch-speaking". It's used to describe Indonesian people, usually of Chinese heritage, whose ancestors were Dutch-educated during the colonial period instead of Chinese-educated or Indonesian-educated - and thus adopt western lifestyles and speak Dutch).

Although it isn't hard to prepare, Pastel Tutup is considered a festive dish - and only consumed on special occasions only, e.g. Christmas, Easter, birthdays. The flavor isn't complicated, but delicate and rich. The main spice used is ground nutmeg - which is used to flavor the potato and the filling. There's no definite ingredients for the filling - but most will always include the following: chicken breast cubes, prawns, sliced cocktail sausages, carrots, peas, and hard-boiled egg slices.

It's interesting that the variety of fillings really reflect the heritage of the cook. In my case, because my dad's family is Holland Spreken Chinese, and my mom's family is pure Chinese, my mom adds a personal touch to her famously sumptuous Pastel Tutup - by adding black fungus (also known as 'Clouds Ears' fungus - a common fungus used in Chinese dishes) to reflect her heritage. Some people would add things like glass noodles, chicken liver pieces, parsley, quail's eggs, etc.

In an effort to replicate my mom's famous Pastel Tutup (it is famously known that in my extended family, my mom's Pastel Tutup is considered the best), I came across my own version of Pastel Tutup. By substituting several ingredients (not all of the original ingredients are readily available in Australia), I ended up inferior version of her Pastel Tutup, LOL. But anyway, I love home cooked meals, and this dish I made really reminds me of my mom's cooking back home.

Pastel Tutup is usually baked in a large casserole, but just to pretty it up a bit, I baked small portions in Souffle dishes. On the side, I prepared some blanched asparagus and red Sauerkraut (also a family favorite - we call it Zuurkool, the Dutch name for sauerkraut. My mom makes her own Zuurkool, but for me, ready-made German sauerkraut (which tastes very similar) will do just fine.

I'm pretty satisfied with this dish - certainly worth the effort. Now if only someone could make me some Erwtensoep (the emblematic Dutch pea soup) just like my Mom and my late Grandmother used to make, my happiness would be complete.
(Pastel Tutup is most commonly eaten with pea soup, at least in my family)

Other Dutch-Indonesian-Chinese dishes frequently cooked by my family include:

- Blinde Vinken (rolled steaks)
- Kroketten and Bitterballen (Dutch croquettes and croquette balls)
- Ajam Kodok (Stuffed chicken)
- Roulade (rolled chicken)
- Frikadel Panggang (roast Dutch-Indonesian sausages)
- Spekkoek (Spiced layer cake)
- Smoor Daging (sweet beef stew)
- Bistik Kakap Saoes Mentega (sea bass steak in butter sauce)
- Setoepan (creamy vegetable stew)
- Bruine Bonen (creamy kidney bean stew / soup)
- Macaroni Schotel (a.k.a Indische Pastei, which is a baked macaroni dish)
- Huzaren Sla (Dutch-Indonesian salad)
- Klapertaart (Coconut custard pudding)
- Oliebollen (donut-like fried dough with raisins and apple pieces)
- Poffertjes (Dutch pancakes)
- Perkedel Djagoeng (corn fritters)
- Rosen Stroop (rose syrup drink, a personal favorite)

P.S. I used the now obsolete van Ophuijsen spelling to write those dishes' names - because that's the spelling used in Indonesia during the colonial era. Just for fun.

Reccommended reading would be (I think it's called) "Het kookboek voor Hollandsche, Chineesche en Indische gerechten" Which is probably the most authoritative source in Dutch-Indonesian-Chinese food. It's an old book from the forties and most probably out-of-print, and I remembered that my Grandfather used to have a copy in his home library. I wonder where that book is now. Regardless, my mom has copied lots of recipes from that book to her cookbook, so I guess some of the recipe isn't lost after all.


Anonymous said...

Zuurkool is the best! yummy!

Anonymous said...

i used to eat frikadel at home..its yummy!! potatoe and minced pork.. = heaven.

Leony said...

Erik !! Awesome Pastel Tutup! And the presentation, very2 pretty! Let's put your Pastel Tutup in the menu list of the finest restaurant in Sydney! I bet it will do really well.

Dulu gue biasa bikin pastel tutup 1 pinggan gede, buat potluck anak-anak Indo. Perasaan, kalo potluck anak Indo sih, mau enak atau nggak brapa enak juga pasti ludes! Hehehe. Oh iya, untuk non-halal version, biasa ditambahin ham juga. BTW, yours itu agak basah ya, tapi gue juga suka lihat yg versi jauh lebih kering. Itu moistnya dari cream atau memang mashed potatonya dibikin lebih empuk?

Oh iya...kmaren di Dapur babah, gue pesen Oenbiekoek, alias kue bolu kayu manis yg dimangkok itu loh, yg atasnya pake kenari dikit. Enak anget2 :D.

Erique Fat Owl said...


Aah! you mean Onbijtkoek?
Yes yes...kue yang ngetop jaman Belanda!

Onbijtkoek itu sebenernya rasanya ga jauh2 sama Spekkoek ya, secara aroma dominan-nya itu cinnamon, kan. Kalo di keluarga gw, Onbijtkoek itu dipotong2 terus diolesin roomboter (harus roomboter Wijsman & Zonen, tentunya, hehehe), trus diatasnya dikasih hagelslag (or lebih dikenal dengan istilah 'muisjes' di Indonesia - padahal 'muisjes' itu kalo di Belanda kan bukan yang dari coklat)...hagelslag nya merk De Ruijter tentunya...jadi hasilnya kue super wangi & lezaaaat. Mmmm...

Aduhh non pengen bgt ke Dapur Babah...trus Tiga Nyonya, Kembang takut kalo makanan2 Indo-Belanda / Baba-Nyonya itu pada musnah ditelan zaman...pengen deh buka restoran2 kayak gitu nanti...

Pastel tutup gw itu udah tergolong ngga gitu basah, lho. Gw seringan liat pastel tutup yang lebih basah lagi (sampe kayak sup!). Itu basahnya emang dari cream. Tapi kentangnya juga agak terlalu basah sih (rada gagal), harusnya jauh lebih kering & padat dari itu...

shasa said...
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Anonymous said...

Damn I was going to buy a new Hummer in late 2012 and drive around the country for a vacation, Now I am going to have to shave my head and join the Hari.s, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah s, Mormons, Christians, and a few other wing nut groups just to cover all my bases.
]Astronomical picture
[/url] - some truth about 2012

emfeist said...

Such an interesting account about Vless Pastei, thanks Erique! Saya nggak tahu bahwa ini resep Belanda. But Dutch is fun to learn!
I'm thinking to try this out for an upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party. Would you have a recommended recipe, or other Dutch recipes? I have a Dutch fellow coming along, and I plan to wow the crowd! :)