Traditional food from Belgium

Here’s a list of traditional food from Belgium that you should try on your next trip! Belgian food has been influenced by French cuisine and Dutch cuisine. 

Moules-Frites

Moules-frites is a popular Belgian dish that is believed to have originated from the Flanders region in northern Belgium. It comprises mainly of mussels (moules) and French fries (frites).

The mussels can be cooked in a variety of ways such as moules marinière (with white wine, shallots, butter, and parsley), moules natures (steamed with butter, celery, and leeks), and moules à la crème (with flour and cream).

The fries are also an integral component and Belgian culinary tradition requires using double-fried bintje potatoes. Moules-frites is considered the national dish of Belgium.

Moules-frites
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Flemish stew (Carbonnades Flamandes)

Carbonnades flamandes, or Flemish stew, is a popular dish in Belgian cuisine that comprises of a meat stew. The choice of meat is almost always beef but rarely other types of meat may also be used.

The main ingredients of this hearty stew are beef chunks, onions, beef stock, bread, flour, mustard, butter, brown beer, brown sugar, nutmeg, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Flemish stew is a grand mix of many flavors and it is usually paired with Belgian-style ail and served with roasted, fried, or simply boiled potatoes.

Flemish stew
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Croquettes aux crevettes grises (Grey shrimp croquettes)

Croquettes aux crevettes grises, or grey shrimp croquettes is a specialty Belgian dish that comprises of croquettes made from the smallest available shrimps found in the North Sea.

Other key ingredients for the dish include butter, milk, gelatin, all-purpose flour, onions, bay leaf, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, egg yolk, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, salt, and ground black pepper with parsley for the final garnish just before serving.

The croquettes are refrigerated for a day at least and ideally a couple of days before they are fried and served. The key to making great croquettes aux crevettes grises is to find the freshest ingredients.

Croquettes aux crevettes grises
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Eel in the green

Paling in ‘t groen, or eel in the green, is a traditional Belgian dish from the Flemish region that is made using freshwater eel served in a special green herb sauce. It is usually homemade with locally sourced ingredients such as shallots, cornflour, butter, and salt with finely chopped fresh herbs (sage, mint, oregano, sorrel, chervil, thyme, savory, parsley, stinging nettle, spearmint, watercress, chives, and basil).

The ingredients are stewed and, when the white flesh of the eels almost separates from the bone, it is done. The green color can be enhanced with spinach and at times beer, wine, lemon juice, and egg yolk may also be added to complement the flavor. Eel in the green is traditionally served with fries and bread.

Paling in ‘t groen
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Waterzooi

Waterzooi, or water boiled, is a traditional Belgian dish originating in the town of Ghent region that comprises of a meat stew. While the original recipe used only fish, today, both fish and chicken are widely available and equally popular.

The main common ingredients for the stew are egg yolk, cream, and vegetable broth with meat (fish or chicken), carrots, onions, celery root, leeks, potatoes, and local herbs such as parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and sage.

Waterzooi can be made with many different types of fish with eel, carp, bass, cod, and pike being the most popular choices.

Waterzooi
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Steak-frites

Steak-frites, or steak (with) fries, is a popular Belgian dish that is considered to be the second national dish of the country. It comprises of a steak served with deep or double-fried potatoes (frites).

The traditional choice was a rump steak but the rib eye is the most popular choice of steak today. The common ingredients that go in the various steak sauces for the dish include shallots, garlic, parsley, butter, salt, and pepper. Steak-frites may be eaten for both lunch and dinner.

Boulet à la liégeoise

Boulet à la liégeoise, or Liege meatballs, is a traditional specialty Belgian dish originated from the city of Liege. It consists mainly of large meatballs called Boulet and smaller meatballs called Boulette.

The meatballs are made using pork, veal, beef, or a mixture of these meats with breadcrumbs, onions, and parsley thrown into the mix as well. They are cooked until they achieve the perfect golden brown color and then added to the unique sweet and sour sauce lapin made from onions, brown sugar, Liège syrup, vinegar, and raisins.

Boulet à la liégeoise is usually the star dish of an establishment and is considered a litmus test of the skills of the chef of a restaurant.

Vol-au-Vent

Vol-au-vent, or windblown, is a traditional Belgian dessert that comprises of a light puff pastry with a small hollow case and is usually served as an appetizer. Often called a patty case, vol-au-vent is prepared by cutting two circles in a rolled-out puff pastry with a hole cut out in between one of them.

The resulting patty case can then be filled with any type of fillings that can be either sweet or savory. Savory fillings are more popular and comprise of chicken or fish. Vol-au-vent can be made into a meal as well and served with mushrooms, meatballs, and either frites or mashed potatoes.

Vol-au-Vent
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Konijn in geuze

Konijn in geuze, or rabbit in Geuze (beer), is a popular dish in Belgian cuisine that comprises of a rabbit stew flavored with Belgian beer (usually Geuze). The most common ingredients for making the stew include rabbit, fat (for frying), smoked bacon, onions, carrots, apple, beer (or wine), thyme, bread, mustard, sugar, and salt.

The rabbit pieces are first fried to brown in the fat before being added to a large pot with the rest of the ingredients to stew for long hours. The bread with mustard spread on it is then added to the mix and stirred until the sauce is thick and smooth indicating the dish is ready. Konijn in geuze is usually served with frites and applesauce.

Boudin

Boudin is a type of traditional sausage prepared and found in Belgium and its neighboring countries. The Belgian boudin is found in two main classifications, boudin blanc (white boudin) and boudin noir (black boudin).

Boudin noir is a blood sausage that is otherwise similar to boudin blanc. Boudin is also available in many different types depending on the region. Boudin vert is a green sausage popular in the Walloon Brabant province whereas crawfish boudin, shrimp boudin, and gator boudin are other popular kinds. Boudin is usually sautéed or grilled. It is also used as an ingredient in many dishes in Belgian cuisine.

Boudin sausage
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