With a large part of the country bordering de zee, the sea, one can be assured to find a large availability of fish and seafood in The Netherlands. One province, appropriately called Zeeland, produces great shrimp, but also grows another delicacy particular to this area: the Zeeland mussel.
As a province, Zeeland is quite active in promoting its products: it hosts the only bivalve auction house in the whole of Europe and has been promoting the celebration of Mosseldag, on the third Saturday of August, for the last fifty years.
If you’re visiting The Netherlands between September and April, look out for fresh mussels on the menu, at the fish mongers in town and on the stove in Dutch kitchens all over the country. Traditionally served with a crisp, warm baguette and several dipping sauces, mussels make a great appetizer or fall lunch, and are very easy to prepare.
- 2 kg (4.5 lb) mussels, cleaned
- 400ml (13.5 fl oz) white wine or water
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- 2 tablespoons of mustard
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar
Mix into a smooth sauce.
Put the wine or water, celery, carrots, shallots, garlic and parsley in a Dutch oven with a lid. Bring to a boil. Lift the lid, add the mussels and boil for seven to eight minutes, tossing the contents of the pan once or twice during that time. The mussels will open up and will be ready to eat.
To serve, place the pan on the table with an extra plate for the shells. Serve with fries and a dipping sauce. Use your fingers to pull the mussels out of the shells or a small fork, dip into the sauce and eat.
Mussels that remain closed after steaming should be discarded.