A Taste of Amsterdam: Smoked Salmon Pasta & Doe Maar

A portrait from Netherlands

What might a typical weeknight dinner in Amsterdam look, sound, taste and feel like for one Dutch-American family?


Virtual Dinner in Amsterdam

bikes along canal in Amsterdam, 2009
a canal in amsterdam on the fall 2009 trip of the author

In 2017 we did a series where we asked friends around the world to allow us to virtually drop in on a weekday dinner with them: what would a typical meal be? What would be on the speakers? What would we learn about life in their city by dining around their table?

This portrait comes in from the Netherlands, where an American friend married to a Dutch man is currently living (for the 2nd time) with her husband and three young children. This is her go-to weeknight dinner when there is no time, but still wants something healthy and interesting.

We all love salmon and [a local store] in Seattle carried this lovely smoked salmon steak that we would buy every time we were there. We started getting creative with it because we wanted to fit it into more eating occasions.

E., on the origins of this dish
salmon pasta healthy americanized dutch weeknight dinner
one of E.’s sons helping himself to more smoked salmon pasta.

Though it’s not a traditional dish, it is a beloved tradition for this Dutch-American family. Commenting on the prevalence of smoked fish in the Dutch diet, E. notes “Lots of smoked fish. Sometimes we use smoked mackerel because it’s sold whole in just about every grocery store.”

Her family devours it, and mine did, too! Bonus: a big batch means packing lunchboxes for the next day is a cinch!

salmon pasta with vegetables
one of the times we had her salmon pasta

Side note: notice the brew on her table above? In case you’re curious, it’s from Brouweri Jhetij and is reportedly delicious. E. says they take all of their visiting friends and family there.


Doe Maar

Our friends recommend some fun Doe Maar while you cook and enjoy the meal. We make that easy-peasy for you via this free Spotify playlist.

Be forewarned that you will need a post-dinner dance-off because a) you are going to devour lots of this pasta and b) just try not to groove to those punk/ska/reggae beats! 


Smoked Salmon Pasta

they love that salmon pasta
more salmon pasta, please.

E. says they always have smoked salmon or smoked mackerel in their fridge, and she’ll essentially just toss it with whatever cheese and green veggie she has around (frozen peas, asparagus, etc.). 


Hagelslag & Muisjes

one of E’s sons enjoying a treat of muisjes on buttered toast

The Dutch go crazy for hagelslag, which is their version of sprinkles but WAY better. There are various flavors and colors, always enjoyed atop butter-covered biscuits or bread (rather than on ice cream or cupcakes). 

There is also a special version of sprinkles called muisjes (Dutch for mouse), which is eaten at the birth of a baby (which depending on the gender, is color-coded in blue or pink). I got my first taste of them in 2011 when E. sent me an amazing gift package at the birth of our daughter. It not only contained this same muisjes, but also a fabulous step-by-step instruction booklet she had created to go along with it. Essentially, as the picture demonstrates, just slather toast with butter, sprinkle muisjes on top, and be prepared to be amazed by the taste and texture of the treat.

De Ruijter White-Pink Sprinkles / Rose en Witte Muisjes, 280g

Interestingly, muisjes are very much like saunf (also sugar-coated fennel seeds but are colored and used differently).


If We Were There

If we were around their table, their kids would delight in telling us that bikes outnumber people in Amsterdam!

And so many of them end up in the canals that there now exists a “bike fishing” company to help clean it up. Using a crane with a claw, they manage to pull out more than 15,000 per year (among other things, like shopping carts.) Read more about it here.

lots of bikes in amsterdam
bikes in amsterdam in 2009, before the days of good camera phones

Eet Smakellijk!!! 

Literally translating to “eat tasty,” that’s the Dutch “Bon Appetit!”