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Belgium on a plate: Try cooking up this Belgian speciality at home
French chef Nicolas Gadomski has a proven track record in Belgium. After working in numerous restaurants in the capital, he has now taken the helm in the kitchen of the five-star Steigenberger Wiltcher’s hotel in Brussels. Having kicked off his career in the French army, he honed his culinary skills under Michelin-starred chefs Ghislain Arabian and Lionel Rigolet.
He counts numerous personalities as fans of his cuisine, notably Jean-Claude Van Damme, Emmanuel Macron and singer Lara Fabian. His focus is on the authentic taste of products, deconstructing French and Belgian classics and infusing them with his own creativity. Here’s his take on Belgian mussels with the addition of a popular Belgian beer. Bon appetit!
Gratin of Ostend mussels with Leffe blonde sabayon and leek julienne
Serves one as generous starter or small main
- 10g butter, plus extra for the leeks
- 100ml olive oil
- 13 large mussels, carefully washed
- 150ml white wine
- 1 stick green celery, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ carrot, diced
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ leek (more white than green)
- 1 bottle Leffe blonde
- 2 egg yolks
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh herbs and bread to serve
Heat the butter and oil in a casserole dish and add the celery, carrot, onion, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Once softened, add the wine and mussels and close the lid. Cook on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the mussels are fully open (discard any that remain closed).
Carefully remove 10 mussels from their shells, retaining three in their shells. Slice the leeks into fine batons and cook gently in butter until soft, then set aside with the mussels.
For the sabayon, place the egg yolks in a saucepan and pour in some of the Leffe and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together off the heat to obtain a froth and then continue stirring over a gentle heat, adding more beer if necessary until thickened (you should be able to see the bottom of the saucepan while whisking at the end).
Place the mussels in a shallow bowl and pour over the sabayon. Gratin under the grill or with a blow torch. Pour the leeks over the dish, then garnish generously with seasonal herbs and serve warm with toasted bread.
This article first appeared in The Bulletin Spring 2018