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Posts Tagged ‘Classic Flemish food’

Filet Américain… that’s the Belgian variation and translation (Flemish, Brussels’ natives and Walloons use the same french lingo in this case) to refer to what Frenchies and you  might actually be calling ‘steak tartare’. But it’s different!

Belgian ‘delicatessen/butcher shops’ and ‘traiteur shops’ sell premium ground meat as ” filet américain nature”, meaning no additions (???- Hmm) as well as “filet américain préparé”, meaning with added different herbs and other seasonings. In the end every one has his/her own recipe. However what makes it different from steak tartare is that the meat is minced with a mechanical grinder. Personally (according to my added 5 local ¢) it does not enhance the meat’s flavour, if I’m allowed to write so!  On the contrary.

Not so for the real and only freshly made steak tartare!

steak tartare my way

steak tartare my way

What transforms  filet américain into a real steak tartare is both the seasoning, and more importantly: the freshly knife-chopped meat just before mixing all ingredients before serving. Indeed, the finished product you buy from the chops usually (read: always) has some preserving“E+ a nbr” chemicals added to keep the meat nicely red for a few days. Home made steak tartare, freshly chopped from premium steak needs to be served asap after finishing the dish. Quality will remain for only a few hours when kept in the fridge!

steak tartare

steak tartare

filet mignon or filet pur
egg yolk
mustard, Dijon mustard recommended
onions or spring onions, finely chopped
capers, drained
tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
a minimal amount of freshly hand-made mayonnaise;
parsley finely chopped
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

I serve this dish with toasted bread slices, tomato & garlic lettuce salad and a Belgian beer: triple Westmalle trappist.

a picture says it better than words

a picture says it better than words

Toasts can be replaced with Belgian french fries or pan baked potatoes.

baked potatoes

baked potatoes


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witloof

Here is another recipe from Flanders’ traditional cuisine – (serves 4)

  • 8 endives aka witloof or chicon.
  • 8 slices of cooked white ham
  •  milk
  •  flour
  •  butter
  •  a mix of grated gruyere cheese and grated  parmegiano (parmesan) cheese.
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg

——————————————————————————–

  • Clean endives and remove outer leaves, cut and hollow out the root base to remove bitterness
  • Steam endives till almost soft.
  • Collect the cooking juice.
  • Cover and braise for 3 minutes in a pan with butter.
  • Combine evenly until endives are slightly caramelized.
  • Endives should drain off a maximum amount of water for the next cooking step.
  • Make a clear roux:
  • Melt butter in a pot
  • Add flour as soon as butter has melted but do not allow it to brown.
  • Return to heat and gradually add milk while stirring well
  • Add juice from cooking endives
  • Continue to stir
  • Reduce heat
  • Salt, pepper and grate a generous amount of nutmeg
  • Add most of the grated cheese and let it melt in the sauce while continuing to stir
  • Reduce to obtain a creamy, thick sauce
  • Remove rind from ham slices
  • Roll each endive in a slice of ham and place them in a baking dish
  • Pour white sauce over all roulades
  • Add the rest of the grated gruyere to the dish after 10 minutes of cooking time and let it brown and cook the dish in a pre-heated oven or salamander
  • Serve hot accompanied with homemade mashed potatoes that are also cooked under the salamander till the top layer is crispy brown.

 

Next time I’m cooking the dish, I will take some pics of the process and update this post.

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De Oesterput (oyster pitt) is very well known by a few in Belgium. It’s in Blankenberge, a popular seashore town along the Belgian coast. It’s a typical family holiday place, not fancy like Knokke… just a place where the hard working commoner family goes on holiday since the early 50ties.

I know my parents went there since I was a baby. Every year. Again and again. Probably that’s why, when I grew up I only very rarely visited the place again. However, last year when my wife and I returned to Belgium for a family visit, we also took a trip to the Belgian coast. (68km of North Sea coastline: yup… that’s Belgium… a HUGE country -grin-)

BlankenbergeBlankenberge, West-Flanders.

Anyway, we had lunch at the Oesterput with some great seafood: Dutch Zeeland flat oysters which are definitely the best in the world, unfortunately also the most expensive;

OestersZeeuwse platte Oesters. The best in the world. Because of these little animals I’ll forgive the Dutchies for being Dutch!

Mjam!

Soupe de poissonsFish soup with rouille. We both loved it. Wonderful dish.

And another speciality from Flanders: Garnaalkroketten -> think  gray shrimp croquettes, dipped in egg-white and bread crumbs, then deep fried in oil. I’ll post the recipe in a future cooking post but just forget about cooking this in Asia, as there sadly is no way to buy those North Sea grey shrimps here!

croquettesA Classic with Capital C in Flanders’ cuisine.

 

IMG_0389bis

If you want the real stuff: catch a flight to Belgium to enjoy them. Just don’t tell me, as I would turn green and have a tantrum out of jealousy!

Oesterput1Behind the windows in the back are 4 large basins where they keep life lobsters and oysters. It used to be an open space but due to health and safety reasons they had to separate the basins from the restaurant with those windows. People call that progress but I preferred the charm from before!

Oesterput Blankenberge

Oesterput restaurant

 

Port of Blankenberge

Website of this place: http://www.oesterput.com/

Although they announce 4 languages on their home page, English and German is still unavailable. Sorry for that. If you want to read, you’ll have to stick to Dutch or French!

 

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