Mussels or moules are the national dish of Belgium and are in season from September to February. Most of the mussels consumed in Belgium come from the North Sea, off the northern coast of the Netherlands. Traditionally they are served in a large steaming pot of savory broth with a side Belgian frites and homemade mayonnaise.
Although they are often referred to as Mussels in Brussels they are served throughout the region in a variety of ways. The most common method is a la marinere, which consists of white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. It’s difficult to improve on this classic method, but the Belgians have added a twist by replacing the white wine with delicious Belgian beer. Another common version is a la crème where the stock is thickened with flour and generous proportions of heavy cream. Yet another way of serving Belgian mussels is in a vegetable stock, with bits of celery, leek and onions creeping into the shells.
While the portion of mussels served may seem rather large, it is surprising how quickly they disappear from the pot. Many restaurants will whisk away the empty pot and come back with round two – yet another ration of steamy blue creatures. The trick to eating mussels like the Belgians is to use a discarded shell as a spoon to scoop out the plump little delicacies and of course the flavorful juices.
Want to learn more about Belgian Mussels? Check out the Simply Mussels Expo!
Mussels in Brussels
It would be difficult to mention to mussels without bringing up one of the most famous restaurants in Brussels, Chez Leon. They serve half a ton of mussels a day from just this ONE restaurant on the Rue de Bouchers. They also brew their own Leon beer and offer special menus for groups of 20 to 230 guests. Check out their enewsletter on all thing Brussels & mussels.