Amazingly enough I discovered mussels in … Brussels. It doesn’t get more cliché than this. And ever since discovering them, I love them. I love the fact they are easy to prepare, and then so versatile.

Moules in Brussels are as sought after and important as beer. Every restaurant and brasserie makes sure to have at least 4 different moules dishes on their menu, when in season. Naturally, moules are served in special Belgian casseroles – I really need to get one of those – and with frites and mayonnaise on the side. I think even the colours of the dish are planned to come across as Belgian: the black moules in red tomato sauce, and the yellow frites on the side – there you have it!

I love moules. I love the moules ritual and how all my Belgian friends can kill only to have moules when in season. I have been ‘dragged’ (and didn’t complain once!) to endless moules evenings. House moules parties, restaurant visits, and then easy moules dinners after the Sunday market. And every time I eat them, I discover a new twist on the original, a new recipe.

Of course there are the moules mariniere, the classic dish. The moules a la diable, the spicy twist – love them. As Belgian as it ever gets: moules a la biere. And then the endless combinations, exotic or not on moules. Versatile, easy to cook, delicious.

Moules mariniere

2kg mussels
2 finely chopped shallots
2tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 glasses white wine
100gr butter
thym, pepper

Wash the mussels till the water is clear. Place the mussels, the shallots, the parsley, the thym, the white wine and pepper in a deep pot. Cover, and cook over high heat until all mussels are open. Disregard any which didn’t open. Pour the juice in a casserole and bring to the boil. Add the butter and continue boiling, until the sauce reduces; add some fresh parsley, and serve on top of the mussels.

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