Read our previous posting: “Best of Belarus food: Machanka with draniki!”
BEST of Belgium food : Moules Frites !
This was not an easy choice. I could easily have selected the Carbonade Flamande, or the sole meuniere, or the waffles, or the Stoemp, or any of many other dishes from Belgium.
I read somewhere that the Belgians eat 30 million tons of mussels each year and that fact alone got my attention. However, what tipped the scale in favor of moules frites was the thought that most people are not aware that french fries originated in Belgium, not in France as the name might suggest. Remember that the next time you enjoy some mussels and fries!
Here’s a recipe for steamed mussels and fries from Saveur.com:
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
1 cup canola oil, plus more for frying
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼”-thick sticks
2½ lb. mussels, debearded and scrubbed
⅔ cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1½ leeks, light green and white parts, cut into ¼”-thick slices
½ large yellow onion, finely chopped
1. Make the mayonnaise: In a large bowl, whisk mustard and egg yolk. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil in a thin stream until it begins to emulsify; whisk in vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
2. Make the fries: Pour oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2″, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; chill.
3. Increase oil temperature to 385°. Working in batches, add chilled potatoes and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, return fries to rack; season with salt.
4. Meanwhile, make the mussels: Heat a 12″ high-sided skillet over high heat. Add mussels, wine, butter, celery, leeks, and onions; season with salt and pepper, and cover skillet. Cook, occasionally shaking skillet, until all mussels are opened, about 5 minutes. Divide mussels between 2 large bowls. Serve with fries and mayonnaise.
Variations: To take the flavor of moules frites in different directions, omit the wine and add one of the following ingredients to the pan with the mussels, butter, celery, leeks, and onion: 1 tablespoon blanched, minced garlic and ¾ cup heavy cream; 1 tablespoon curry powder; 1 tablespoon piment d’Espelette (a variety of dried red chili pepper); 1 tbsp. Pernod; ⅔ cup wheat beer.
Read our related posting: “Belgium, the crossroads of French, Dutch and German cultures!”
Read our next posting: “Best of Belize food: Rice and Beans!”
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