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Belgian fries on the rise in Southeast Asia

Thailand imported a whopping 8,262 tons of Belgian frozen potatoes, fries and other potato-related prod­ucts last year, nearly doubling the amount it shipped in a decade ago, said the Flanders’ Agricultural Marketing Board and Belgian potato association Belgapom in a recent release.

Dining
By The Phuket News

Tuesday 3 December 2019, 10:00AM


Thailand imported 8,262 tons of Belgian frozen potatoes, fries and other potato-related prod­ucts last year.

Thailand imported 8,262 tons of Belgian frozen potatoes, fries and other potato-related prod­ucts last year.

The Philippines was the top importer, with 30,468 tons shipped to the archi­pelago in 2018, followed by Malaysia’s 24,724 tons, Indonesia’s 15,548 tons, Thailand’s 8,262 tons and Vietnam’s 2,815 tons – all demonstrating how the Asean region has grown to become a large target market for Belgian potatoes.

This growth shows no signs of stop­ping either. In the first half of 2019, Belgian potato suppliers shipped 50,000 tons of Belgian potato-related products to Southeast Asia, 3,000 tons of which was bound for Thailand.

The five largest Belgian suppliers are Agristo, Bart’s Potato Company, Clare­bout Potatoes, Ecofrost and Mydibel – all family-owned businesses shipping potato products all over the world.

Although often referred to as “French fries”, the history of the fried potato can be traced back to 17th-Cen­tury Belgium when poor villagers in the Meuse Valley, accustomed to frying river-caught fish, turned to root vegeta­bles when the water froze over during the bitter winter months.

American soldiers stationed in Bel­gium in World War I called the tasty treats “French fries” given that the offi­cial language of the country at the time was French. And the name stuck, as has the world’s appetite for them.

To promote Belgian fries in the Ase­an region, Original Belgian Fries sup­ported the “Back to Basic” challenge at the Thaifex – World of Food Asia 2019 convention earlier this year. More than 1,300 chefs competed during this 5-day challenge in which they were tasked with preparing two toppings and two dips to combine with tasty, Belgian-style fries.

Thai chef Thipphapa Putthala of Wandee Culinary Technological College in Bangkok won a silver medal with a perfect score for her stewed-pork BBQ sauce, and you can try her award-win­ning recipe for yourself:

Ingredients

Tomato sauce, 200 grams
BBQ sauce, 24g
Lea & Perrins, 20g
Tabasco, 10g
Onion, 40g
Garlic, 2 pieces
Bay leaf, 2pcs
Oregano, 2 tablespoons
Brown sugar, 60g
Apple juice, 20g
Pepper, 1 teaspoon
Salt, 1tsp
Paprika, ½ tsp
Butter, 2g
Pork ribs, 250g
Sugar, 15g
Salt, 20g
Water, 350g

Method

Sauté the onion, garlic, shredded pork rib with butter.
Add oregano.
Add all sauces.
Simmer, and wait until cooked.

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