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Stoemp is a potato based dish popular throughout Belgium and in some parts of the Netherlands. It primarily consists of mashed potatoes mixed with one or more vegetables, then fried. Other ingredients are often added, such as cream and spices. Stoemp is thought of as a satisfying and fulfilling side dish and is frequently served along side fried boudin, eggs, or grilled bacon.
Varying vegetables are added to stoemp to bring about different taste sensations. Depending on the vegetable, stoemp can be called different names, such as wortelstoemp if carrots are added. It is common to find stoemp made with carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions or leeks, spinach, and green peas. Laurel and thyme are often used as seasonings.
Similar potato dishes exist around the world, many of which were the direct results of food rationing during World War II. Fresh meat in particular was difficult to come by during this time, and it was quite normal for households to remake left-overs, especially potatoes, into tasty meals. Corned beef, which is made by adding saltpeter to beef, was usually the staple meat seen during this time. Some of these dishes which evolved include bubble and squeak from England, stampot from the Netherlands, hash from the US, colcannon from Ireland, and bikesmad from Denmark.
Meat is a common ingredient in most of these dishes. Boudin and bacon are often served with stoemp. The English bubble and squeak is served or made with roast. Rookworst, a smoked sausage, normally compliments the Dutch stamppot. Corned beef is traditionally mixed with hash in the United States. The Danish bikesmad is made with just about any left over meat or eggs. Unlike these dishes, Irish colcannon may stand alone as a dish unto itself.
Fried potatoes have been a part of Belgian cuisine for centuries and are used in numerous Belgian dishes. For many years after the potato first arrived in Europe during the 1500’s, potatoes were thought to be unholy and unsuitable for normal human consumption. They soon became a main staple during famines and were cooked in numerous ways, including frying. Even the sometimes hotly debated French fry may very well have its origins rooted in Belgian history, depending on whose story is believed.
Stoemp and similar dishes provided excellent nutrition to people at a very inexpensive price during times when food was scarce. These recipes are popular both in homes and restaurants because they were modified to become flavorful and appealing additions to common meals. A plenitude of stoemp recipes may be found in cookbooks and on the Internet.
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