In the Netherlands, kibbeling is the fish snack par excellence. It is made up of pieces of cod or other white fish, dipped in a batter, then fried.
What is kibbeling?
Kibbeling is a dish of Dutch cuisine made up of irregular pieces of fish that are first sprinkled with spices, then dipped in a batter made from lager beer, then fried.
The word kibbeling originally meant the remains, usually the cheeks, of cod, an important component of popular Dutch food in the 19th century.
Kibbeling is a linguistic deformation of the word kabeljauwwang. Kabeljauw means “cod” and wang broadly means the “cheeks” and in animals, the teeth, the claws, and the jaw. This part of the fish was once cut separately and then sold as kibbeling.
Nowadays, different types of white fish are used for this recipe: the most common is pollack, but hake, haddock, whiting, and black cod, are also widely used.
Kibbeling is eaten both as a snack served in a tray called schotel in Dutch, directly from fishmongers, and as a main dish at the table in a restaurant. In both versions, however, it is common to accompany it with mayonnaise mixed with garlic sauce or tartar sauce.
But several other sauces are commonly served with kibbeling:
- Garlic sauce, similar to aioli, called knoflook saus.
- Remoulade sauce, made with a mayonnaise base, to which mustard, diced shallots, capers, pickles and fresh herbs such as spring onion, tarragon, chervil, pimprenelle are added. If the mustard disappears from this preparation, the sauce is then called tartar sauce. Tartar sauce is also a sauce for kibbeling.
- Ravigote sauce, which contains vinegar, shallots, capers and fresh herbs such as chives, tarragon, parsley, and chervil.
- Whiskey sauce or cocktail sauce: essentially a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup, sometimes with a drop of whiskey.
The spice blend
The spice blend is the essential step in the kibbeling recipe. In the Netherlands, it is sold ready in all supermarkets and several brands distribute it. It is however quite possible to prepare this mixture at home.
The spices and condiments used for kibbeling are:
- Mustard seeds
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Bay leaf
What is the origin of kibbeling?
A dish born from the need to use cod leftovers, kibbeling is still one of the typical Dutch dishes today.
Indeed, until the 19th century, kibbeling was not so much a dish but rather an ingredient and its meaning has changed over the centuries. In the 17th century, it was the name given to the cod wastes, whether salted or not. In 1768, it was the cut heads and other pieces of cod, and in 1812 salted fish scraps, while in 1849 the texts dealt specifically only with the cheeks of the cod. This waste was offered to the poor in the 19th century.
But, in the 20th century, a fishmonger had the idea of breading these cod leftovers and frying them. Kibbeling then became an iconic dish of the Netherlands.
The stronghold of the kibbeling would be the port of IJmuiden, a seaport of North Holland located in IJmuiden which owes its birth to the construction of the North Sea canal, opened in 1876. The locks of IJmuiden are among the longest to the world also controlling the flow of water in the North Sea Canal.
According to IJmuiden fishmongers, the fishmonger behind the birth of the kibbeling lived in IJmuiden, where he sold this snack to Amsterdam tourists for a very good price on summer days in the early 1950s. The story goes that the Dutch quickly rushed to IJmuiden especially to taste this fried fish.
From the 1960s, the demand for cod head became too high in the Netherlands, the flesh of any piece of white fish was then used for kibbeling. Nowadays, the appellation includes all the remains sold in bulk.
Varieties of breaded fish around the world
The kibbeling is typically Dutch, but other countries also enjoy delicious fried fish.
Fish and chips has also grown in popularity in parts of North America (New England, the Pacific Northwest region of the continent and Canada), as well as in South Africa. It is also served in Denmark, and in coastal cities in Norway.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, a recipe similar to kibbeling is called lekkerbek (or lekkerbekje) and it is a whole filet of breaded cod, then fried. People also eat lekkerbek (literally “good beak”) on the go, in sandwiches or as a whole dish accompanied by a lemon slice or a remoulade sauce, kibbeling-style.
In South Korea, fish cakes are called eomuk (어묵) or odeng (오뎅), and their origin is Japanese.
Accras are undoubtedly one of the most consumed dishes of West Indian gastronomy along with Creole sausage. They are called cod accras but also marinades, especially in Martinique. This appellation tends to disappear so as not to confuse it with the marinades of French cuisine.
In Spain, pescado frito is one of the most consumed dishes in the country.
In Germany, backfisch is similar to fish and chips from the United Kingdom.
Of course, depending on the country, the spices will be different, just like the cereal or grain used for the dough.
The benefits of fish
The heart and brain love. Fish, which is synonymous with health, is one of the most recommended foods in any diet for its remarkable nutritional properties and the many benefits it brings to the body.
It is an excellent food that must be eaten at least 2 times a week, to feed children, teenagers, adults and the elderly, as part of a varied and balanced diet.
The first thing to do when preparing a fish recipe is to check the quality of the raw materials, the freshness and the origin of the fish itself, making sure it comes from pure, uncontaminated water. To protect health from any risk, it is therefore important to ensure that 3 fundamental principles are respected in the choice of fish: freshness, guaranteed origin and certified quality.
In a note posted on their website, experts from the famous Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, USA, take stock of fish consumption and the benefits (or risks) associated with it :
The numerous studies carried out on the subject undoubtedly show that the strength of the fish and one of the main reasons why it is recommended to consume it every week is the presence in particular of polyunsaturated fatty acids, better known as omega 3.
These substances are excellent for the heart, to the point that consuming around 2 to 3 servings per week of fatty fish (salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines) reduces the death rate from cardiac origin by 36%.
But fish also help the heart in other ways, such as making it less likely that you will have very serious heart rhythm disturbances, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the level of triglycerides and inflammation.
The brain also benefits greatly from eating fish. Studies have shown that fish omega 3 are important for the development of the brain and nervous system of children. Also, regular consumption of fish could also help reduce the risk of stroke, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
- 2 lb cod fillet (or other white fish)
- 3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup lager beer
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup aioli
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Chopped chives (or parsley)
- Stand mixer
- Deep fryer
- Slotted spoon
- Place the fish fillets in a bowl and sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the fish fillets thoroughly and pat dry them well with paper towels.
- Cut the fillets into small pieces.
- Mix all the spices and season all the pieces of fish with this spice blend. Mix well by hand.
- Reserve in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, prepare a batter.
- First mix the eggs, milk and beer, then gradually add the flour, mixing well with the flat beater until the preparation is smooth and lump-free.
- The texture should be such that it sticks well to the pieces of fish. It should be semi-liquid, a little thicker than a crepe batter. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more milk or beer. If, on the contrary, it seems too runny, add a little flour.
- Reserve the batter for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Heat a large volume of oil to 350 F (175°C) in a fryer or deep pan.
- Drip the pieces of fish in the batter, remove the excess and immerse them in hot oil.
- Fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the fish pieces from the oil using a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels.
- Mix all the necessary ingredients for the sauce and taste the fish hot, accompanied by the sauce.