Belgium is a relatively small country nestled between Germany, the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe.
Belgian cuisine has a lot in common with its neighbors, particularly in terms of the staple ingredients used in most dishes. There are very intricate cultural crossovers with the countries neighboring Belgium, which is none more evident than in the languages spoken throughout the country (Dutch, French, German, Flemish).
Most Popular Belgian Dishes
It is often said that the level of influence from neighbouring countries means that Belgians tend to appreciate quality food like the French do, whilst having access to a much wider variety of foods more like the Germans.
Most typical Belgian dishes utilise at least one form of meat, otherwise seafood is used. Seafood is fairly abundant owing to Belgium’s North Sea coast. Root vegetables are also particularly common in many Belgium dishes.
French fries are hugely popular in Belgium and you can find them with sauces, cold cuts, seafood or even stranger combinations where you would not expect to find them.
So without further ado, here are the absolute must-try dishes of Belgium along with recipes for you to try yourself.
Waterzooi is a type of thick soup which is based on fish or chicken. If it is cooked from chicken, the whole part of the meat and bone are used in the preparation. For example, the chicken drumstick is boiled in its own juice and cream and served with white wine.
The soup also consists of cooked vegetables, such as carrots, leeks, celery, onions and potatoes, and garnished with fresh herbs on top. You can find fish soup mainly at the fishing ports (the most famous being Ostend) and in towns on the coast.
It usually consists of fish broth, white wine, saffron, tomatoes, onions, leeks and also fresh North Sea gifts.
Stoemp is a specialty typical of Brussels which consists mainly of mashed potatoes and vegetables. It is most typically eaten with sausage or another type of meat, but sometimes a fried egg or minced meat is also added.
Carbonnade Flamande (Flemish Stoverij)
Carbonnade Flamande is a Belgian recipe from Flanders made of pieces of beef stewed in Belgian beer with a little sugar to give it a sweet and sour taste.
Some chefs also add carrots, onions or other similar vegetables in the dark brown sauce. Boiled potatoes and French fries are also suitable as side dishes to Carbonnade.
Moules Frites are essentially mussels served straight from the pot in which they are cooked, along with a side of fries. It is considered to be the national dish of Belgium.
Chicons au Gratin
Chicons au gratin is one of the few Belgian dishes dominated by vegetables. The base is chicory, which is then wrapped in a slice of ham. This sausage is then baked together with béchamel and cheese. Chicons au gratin is most often served alone but sometimes with boiled potatoes.
Filet Américaine is essentially a steak tartare, which is simply seasoned raw ground beef. The main difference with Filet Américaine is that it is spread on bread and is commonly served with fries. The fried egg is also slightly more optional in the Belgian version.
Paling in ‘t Groen
Paling in ‘t groen is a green eel, a traditional Flemish specialty full of herbs. Pieces of eel meat are cooked with shallots and spinach. Mint, sage, tarragon, chervil, sorrel and white wine add to the taste of the dish. This is usually served on its own or with bread or potatoes.
Tomatoes aux Crevettes Grises
Tomatoes aux Crevettes Grises or Tomaat met Grijze Shrimp is a dish consisting of shrimps stuffed into a hollowed tomato filled with mayonnaise.
Sometimes, a side dish is included, such as a salad or French fries. Alternatively, a very similar salad of shrimp and cherry tomatoes can accompany it.
Boudin blanc is a type of white sausage made up of meat, bread crumbs and blood, forming its distinctive white color. The sausage is served with apple puree and a side dish of potatoes or Belgian fries. You can often find baked apple slices served as a side dish with Boudin.
Waffles include whipped cream, fresh fruit, maple syrups, ice cream and, of course, chocolate. There are other different combinations of these variants.
For instance, Brussels waffles are thin and crispy, but fluffy and large. On the other hand, Liege waffles are denser and harder. However, they are smaller and often have a round shape. Stroop waffles are really thin waffles that are warmed on a cup of coffee. However, it is eaten as two slices, which are glued together with some sweet filling in the middle. The filling is syrup, cane sugar, cinnamon and butter.
La Dame Blanche
La Dame Blanche is a sweet dessert prepared with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a warm melted chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce is prepared using chocolate, cream and butter.
La Dame Blanche is similar to the famous American sundae or the Coupe Dänemark in Germany and Switzerland.
Fromage Bruxelles (Brussels Cheese)
Fromage de Bruxelles, also known as ettekeis or Brussels Cheese, is a special kind of Belgian cheese prepared using pasteurized cow’s milk. The cheese needs to be consistently dried and washed for at least three months. After three months, it is shaped into rounds or tubs and is then deemed ready for consumption.
In Belgium, Pommes Frites or French fries are served in a typical stand in a paper cone that sucks fat from the oil. They have been prepared in Belgium since the 18th century.
Mayonnaise is the most common accompaniments that they are served with, although other sauces are available too. The mayonnaise itself is sometimes seasoned with garlic.
Jambon d’Ardenne or Ardennes ham is a type of cured meat made in the various Wallonian regions of Luxembourg, Liege and Namur. The ham is dry-salted first and left to rest for 14 days before being immersed into brine to allow the ham to absorb all the flavors of a traditional blend of spices, including thyme, laurel, juniper berries and cloves.
Bicky burger is a hamburger first made by Dutch Company, Beckers. Established in 1981, Bicky burger revolutionized Belgian fast food becoming a symbol of “doing what you want”.
Although there many burger giants in the market, what makes “bicky burger” unique is its ingredients. Made using a patty that comprises pork, horse meat and chicken and filled with pickles, sauces, fried onions and a combination of dressings, this burger has carved a special niche in the hearts of Belgian people.