3 staple fish snacks to eat in the Netherlands

Cecillya and her husband smiling in front of a large windmill in haarlem
December 18th, 2019 - My husband and I taking an imperfect selfie across the waters from a large windmill in Haarlem. 

The Dutch seem to be known for eating straightforward food but just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it! We tested this notion by taking a late-day trip to Haarlem, Netherlands- a small city, just a 20 min. Bus ride outside of Amsterdam. 

After a short afternoon of exploring grand churches, quiet streets, and suites with fantastic interior design; we finally arrive at Balk Visch aan 't Spaarne (Friese Varkenmarkt 13, 2011 JA Haarlem, Netherlands). It's an adorable fish shack that's nestled on the edge of the Binnen Spaarne river. It sat across the largest wooden windmill that I have ever seen. 

Balk Visch aan 't Spaarne Fish Shack in Haarlem NetherlandsOur photograph of Balk Visch aan 't Spaarne, Friese Varkenmarkt 13, 2011 JA Haarlem, Netherlands

We traveled all this way to try one Dutch delicacy you might have heard of- raw herring. We often take the opportunity to try many things in one instance. So naturally, we ate 2 more snacks during our visit. I hope this post piques your curiosity and influences you to try these tasty fish snacks whenever you are in the Netherlands! 


Balk Visch aan 't Spaarne with Deli assortment of fish and milk in Haarlem Netherlands

The inside of the Balk Visch aan 't Spaarne fish deli. 

1. Haring vers van’t mes

The first thing I ate was the raw herring— the most famous delicacy out of the three. The menu read “Haring vers van’t mes”, which means “Herring fresh from the knife”. Wolter’s world taught me that herring can be enjoyed in multiple ways- cut into pieces and eaten with a toothpick, on a slice of bread, or held by the tail of the fillet. Though it’s commonly served with diced onions and pickles. 

I chose to eat it by the tail because it’s the trademark method for this particular delicacy. Little did I know, eating raw herring is like tasting a glimpse of Dutch history and pride. Watch my reaction to eating Raw Herring or Haring vers van’t mes via my Instagram post:



 In Canada, I was told that this snack was not for everyone, but I was urged by my ex-colleague to give it a try. If you are a fan of sashimi, then you would be a fan of this snack. Raw herring has a salty flavor to it, so it pairs well with its tangy garnish (onions and pickles), without the need of soy sauce!


2. Kibbeling (Broodje Kibbeling)

Upon arrival, there was a charming dutch gentleman enjoying a hearty fish sandwich, and at the same time, he was chatting with the owner. We asked him what he was eating, and it turned out to be a Kibbeling Sandwich.


Kibbeling is what I would consider being the Dutch equivalent of ‘fish and chips’ in the UK /North America- but without the ‘chips’. Kibbeling is tender chunks of cod, dipped in batter, deep-fried, and then served with tartar sauce. My mouth is drooling just thinking about the texture of the crispy batter. 


We expressed interest in the Dutch gentleman’s food. So he ordered a Broodje Kibbeling for us! It was very kind of him to speak for us, and it helped our experience feel warm on a chilly winter evening. Just like the raw herring, you can enjoy this snack on its own- without the bread buns (sliders).


Broodje Kibbeling Dutch Salmon Filet on Bread Sliders  

Photograph of our Kibbeling sandwich


The Kibbeling was hot, crispy, fresh, paired with a tangy and savory tartar sauce. The soft whole-wheat slider bun smoothed the bread and sauce textures together. I recommend this snack to everyone. 


3. Zalmsalade (Broodje Zalmsalade) 

The last snack we tried was called a Broodje Zalmsalade. In rough translation, ‘the Salmon-Salad Sandwich.’ I chose this snack because of my natural love of salmon. After all, I am from British Columbia (Canada), where we are known for our fresh fish and the beautiful Bears that catch them.

They served the Zalmsalade on the same slider buns. They encased what appeared to be a moderate batch of flaked red salmon. The salmon’s candied appearance and intense salty profile lead me to believe that this was smoked salmon. Yet this snack isn’t your typical smoked salmon mixed with the mayonnaise situation. The flavor was a tad bit too salty for my taste; however, if you are a fan of intense smokey flavors and you’re looking for a leaner fish, then this is the snack for you!

Broodje Zalmsalade Salmon Fish on bread snack dutch haarlem netherlands

Holding my Broodje Zalmsalade

This “fishy” experience was one of the highlights of our evening. I hope that if and when you are in the Netherlands (or Haarlem), you can go check out your nearest seafood shack/stall/deli. If you enjoy fish, you will love these protein-packed snacks!

Have you had these fishy delicacies? 
Let us know in the comments below! 

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