Friday, November 21, 2008

Lekker Mosselen

Philippine is a small village in Zeeland (region south of the Netherlands) that is famous for its mussels restaurants. Foto is from a book I bought early this year - 52 zondagen, wandelen en lunchen (52 Sundays, lunches and walking trails)

Steamed mussels are not only a Belgian thing – which brings me to mind the little narrow yet full of activity side streets with open-air cafe terraces and restaurants offering mussels and frites on the menu in the Centrum of Brussels – but well, mussels are also a Dutch thing!

2-kilo pack: Zeeuwse Mosselen - Moules de Hollande - Hollandische Muscheln - Dutch Mussels

The Zeeuwse Mussels in Zeeland province and this is mainly in Yerseke where these yummy mussels are cultured and harvested, are very popular. In fact this southern region is one of the largest producers and biggest oyster exporters in Europe. About 50% of the mussels harvested are exported to neighbouring countries such as Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy. So I will wager the thought that the mussels I ate in Brussels and Antwerp were Dutch mussels from Zeeland.

Washing the mussels with fresh water and making sure to set aside the damaged ones.

Another interesting fact I read and also have heard is this small village in Zeeland called Philippine (not the Philippines! but what an interesting name for a village, haha) near the border of Belgium is a well known place for its delightful mussel restaurants. People flock to this little village to eat mussels served in different ways! There is also a Mussels Festival during the last week of August. I am so definitely going there next year, perhaps in the spring, when it’s warmer, or in August during the Mussels festivities. It’s nice to eat mussels outside, in an open-air terrace with beautiful weather and while watching everyone.

Clean mussels ready to be cooked - for flavouring, empty first the sachet of mussel herb mix into the ready pot.

I also wanted to do the open, wide, and flat polder landscape walking trail from Kruiningen to Yerseke during summer.

Anywho, the Dutch parents invited us over last weekend for some steamed mussels for dinner. The dinner was actually a treat for me since I love seafood ergo mussels but I always never have the chance to make them at home because the Dutchman hates seafood or anything from the sea for that matter. So that evening for dinner, Dutchman got pizza instead for himself.

Then add in the (packed) vegetable mix into the pot!

Like a paparazzi, I followed the Dutch parents around their kitchen while they prepared our mussels dinner.

You’ve got to clean the mussels first with water and make sure to take away the bad ones. Dutch father said that if the mussels are wide open, one way of checking is tapping it on any hard surface lightly and see if the shell’s lid retracts, then they are fine to cook. If they don’t, throw them away as you don’t want to have a struggling stomach after dinner.

Mussels pot at boiling point, now ready to be served!

After cleaning, pour into the pot some white wine – tastes much, much better than plain water, then add the mussel herb mix, and pour in the ready packed cut vegetables – leeks, carrots, onions, celery and some thyme and laurel leaves if you have please.

Let the mussel pot simmer under low to medium heat until its klaar ;-)

Uiteindelijk, we can now eat our mussels! We had 2 pots, about 4 kilos of Zeeuwse mussels. The Dutch mother prepared some green salad and bread on the side. Unlike the Belgians, the Dutch prefer to eat mussels with bread than frites.

The part that I look forward to with steamed mussels is the soup, so I always ask for a small cup or bowl. The Dutch parents on the other hand like to eat their mussels with cream sauces – knoflooksaus, cocktailsaus, whiskeysaus, and all other sauces they can think of. I prefer them naturel, without any sauce.

Of course mussels are best eaten with white wine on the table.

4-kilo mussels was too much for 3 people, so we had a lot left. Dutch mother baked them the day after and Dutch father ate them with his boterham (sandwich).

It’s just too bad that the Dutchman doesn’t like seafood. Most mussels sold in the supermarket come in 2-kilo packs, and I don’t like buying something that I cannot consume within the same day or having to make 2 different sets of meals in the evening.

And since we are in this mussels topic, I so so miss the baked mussels (tahong!) in the Philippines!

There is this inconspicuous restaurant in Salcedo Village Makati, near Citibank Building where I always go to with my colleagues and clients. They serve scrumptious baked Tahong and (the unhealthy, lol) Sisig! Too bad I can’t seem to find any similarly cooked Baked Tahong with cheese on the menu here in the Netherlands.

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