Tag: mussels

AMAZING BELGIAN-STYLE MUSSELS – Salt & Pepper – Italian Cuisine


Let's discover one of the most representative dishes of Belgian gastronomy, where the passion for beer joins the popularity of these mussels, and relaunches with a whimsical and greedy combination, with french fries


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From the coasts of Belgium to the streets of Brussels, the traveler encounters large steaming pots everywhere, filled with mussels in a white wine or beer sauce, seasoned with fresh herbs and vegetables. It's moules, mussels. which are very popular here and, in the famous version moules et frites (mussels with fries), also called Belgian-style mussels, true national pride.
But when and how did mussels become a great classic of Belgian cuisine? In addition to local ingredients, national dishes usually contain a bit of history and a pinch of geography. Mussels are very popular in Belgium and are served almost everywhere.

Location is everything
In addition to pointing out numerous canvases, such as Le Combat de Carnaval et de Carême (1559) by Pieter Brueghel l'Ancien, where it is clear that mussels represented a very important food of the Belgian tradition since the Renaissance, historians have discovered a Flemish manuscript of the 1781 which tells the history of the dish. With a recipe very similar to the current Belgian specialty, mussels were prepared in Belgian homes, especially during the winter when there was a shortage of fish. Abundant along the North Sea coasts, they were an economical alternative and were thus quickly adopted by the families of the territory. This somewhat nullified the French claim on this Belgian gem, but on the other hand it introduced another country into the tale: the west coast of the Netherlands is the perfect place for young molluscs to grow. Since mussels tend to live on exposed coasts in intertidal waters, the vast coastal area of ​​the delta formed by the Meuse, Rhine, Schelde and Elm rivers was an ideal habitat.

So how did they come to be a Belgian national dish? The answer lies in the historic canals that brought seafood daily to the heart of the city. The Willebroek canal, which connected Brussels to the Schelde River and then to Antwerp and finally to the North Sea, completed in 1561, arrived at Place Sainte-Catherine. At the time, mussels were considered the meat of the poor, and spread in Belgium very quickly. Today they are sometimes referred to as "black gold". Connoisseurs say the best come from the Scheldt, a shallow river that connects western Belgium to the Netherlands.

Why they come to Belgium accompanied by french fries remains unclear. It seems that the moules-frites, as they are called, were born in Belgium back in 1875 when a German named Fritz Krieger, who worked in the kitchens of a restaurant in the Liège fairgrounds, rose to the honors of the culinary news for the whimsical combination.

Tradition or confusion?
The mussel season runs from June to February, depending on the year. But there are those who say that they offer the best of themselves after July 15. There are several theories about it, some almost cabalistic: if for some mussels are eaten only in summer, according to a very followed tradition the oysters of Ostend, due to their French name, huitre, Yes can only eat in the eight (huit) months that contain an "r", i.e. in French janvier, février, mars, avril, septembre, octobre, novembre et décembre (January, February, March, April, September, October, November, December). For still others, the good months are only the months that end in "bre" that is from September to December (the latter theory seems to date back to the period of Louis XV, a great enthusiast, where for reasons of hygiene and conservation the mussels could be eaten only in the last four months of the year, the coldest).

The variants
There are many Belgian-style mussel recipes, in addition to the most famous – the moules à la biére, cooked in beer and cream – we find the moules marinieres, marinated mussels, le moules à la crème where the broth is thickened with flour and cream, the moules au vin blanc where the sauce contains white wine instead of beer (preference should be given to dry white, while red wine is to be avoided due to tannins), moules à la provençale, with tomato. There are interesting proposals, including the unusual combination with Roquefort. Common among all is the flavoring in a sauté of shallots, celery, parsley, butter and beer: cooking them well is a true art, as they should not be too cooked or too raw.

But which beer? Particularly suitable are white or light beers with low alcohol content, very light, drinkable and characterized by spicy aromas. But there is no shortage of experiments: always speaking of Belgian beers we can range from gueuze, spontaneously fermented, to high-alcohol Trappist tripels. In the moules à la biére de Maredsous, the mussels are cooked in the dark Maredsous beer.

An all-Belgian touch
When your steaming mussels arrive on the table, do it the Belgian way: replace the fork with an empty shell of mussel, and use it to open a new shell and thus obtain the juicy coral.

Bon appétit!

Francesca Tagliabue

Photo beers © kutredrig / 123RF.COM

Posted 05/02/2022


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Tagliatelle with broccoli and mussels – Italian Cuisine

»Pasta with chickpeas and mussels

First of all, clean the mussels well, removing the encrustations and the beards (here the guide to find out how to do it best), then put them in a saucepan, cover with the lid and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until the shells have opened. all, then shell them and filter the cooking juices.

In the meantime, peel the broccoli, divide them into florets and blanch them in salted water for a few minutes (until the stems are tender, touching them with a fork: they must not fall apart).

Drain the broccoli conserving the cooking water, set 1/3 of the florets aside and blend the rest with a blender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the broccoli cooking water and drain when al dente.
Quickly brown the mussels in a large pan with oil and chilli.
Add the pasta, the artichoke cream and the cooking sauce of the mussels and mix gently.

The tagliatelle with broccoli and mussels are ready: add the set aside florets, season with salt and serve.

Mussels, potatoes and beans: the soup you don't expect – Italian Cuisine

Mussels, potatoes and beans: the soup you don't expect

A consistent dish full of flavors, perfect for the coldest evenings. Here's how to prepare it

If you think of a dish that warms the heart and offers some comfort in these difficult days, let yourself be seduced by mussel, potato and bean soup, a first course full of aromas, with a dense consistency and flavors that combine hints of sea and earth. One of those dishes that require time and patience, the result of which, however, will repay any effort. And of those who the next day, they are even better!

Soaking the beans

To prepare this soup you can choose different types of beans. However, the most suitable are still borlotti beans, which must be left to soak from the night before, remembering to change the water several times a day. This operation allows the legumes to lose phytic acid, a phosphorus-based substance contained in these foods. This acid binds to minerals with which it forms insoluble compounds, thus preventing the body from assimilating them. In this way it becomes impossible for the body to absorb the minerals contained in food, resulting in a lack of these very important elements. Soaking the legumes and then cooking them, phytic acid degrades and in this way the minerals become bioavailable.

Mussels are not all the same

Starting from Trieste up to Taranto and then to Sardinia, the whole Italian coast is scattered with mussel farms, with a slightly different shape and aroma from each other. Among the best known, there are those Trieste, about 6 cm long and with a lighter pulp. Those of the province of Rovigo, the only Italian DOP, with a larger pulp than the others and a sweetish flavor; the Adriatic ones, the best known, very savory and fleshy. In front of the promontory of Conero instead a type of mussels is growing which reproduces naturally and which due to its organoleptic characteristics has become a Slow Food Presidium. Then there are the Neapolitan, with a sapid and tasty yellowish color, perfect for the famous impepata, and then those of Taranto, small, pink in color and very tasty pulp, once called the black gold of Taranto, due to the rich production that flourished in the Apulian city. Let's not forget the Sardinian mussels, from those of Olbia to those of Gulf of Oristano. Choose your favorites!

The recipe for mussel, potato and bean soup

Here's how to prepare this dish.


1 kg of cleaned mussels, 300 g of potatoes, 100 g of soaked borlotti beans, 1/2 red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.


Put the mussels in a large pan, cover and over low heat let them open. Once opened, shell them and filter the cooking liquid. Leave only a few with the shell for decoration. Take the beans, boil them in water flavored with the bay leaf, drain and then keep the cooking liquid. Also boil the potatoes in their skins. Once warm, peel them and cut them into squares. In a pan, prepare a sauce with finely chopped oil, onion and garlic. Add the spoonful of flour, the liquid of the mussels, that of the beans and the tomato paste. Mix well. Add the mussels, beans, potatoes and cook until the desired density is reached. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the table.

In the tutorial some tips for a very good soup

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