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Dutch Sizzling Seafood

Crab, lobster and periwinkles: the salty delicacies of Zeeland can compete with the traditional plateau fruits de mer that you know from your holidays in France.

Fruits de mer are the pride of France. There’s no greater treat than a three-layer etagère full of oysters, lobster, langoustines, mussels, clams and crabs on a Parisian terrace, served by a typically stern French waiter. However, Dutch fishermen catch some of the most beautiful, top quality products in their very own North Sea and Eastern Scheldt, a former estuary in the province of Zeeland. The Zeeland flat lobster and Eastern Scheldt lobster also feature on the menu at good quality French and Belgian brasseries. So why don’t we change that Parisian terrace for somewhere in Zeeland? Au revoir Cap-Ferret, hello Yerseke!

Oysters, mussels, crabs and lobsters have been part of the Dutch diet for centuries. Recipes from a 17th century cookbook – ‘Om een goet gericht van krabben of kreeften te maken‘ – were only intended for the rich. Nowadays, mussels are a cheaper option than the Eastern Scheldt lobster, but that certainly doesn’t make them any less tasty. Zeeland mussels can be eaten in the classic style, stewed in white wine with leek and celery, and they are also surprisingly tasty on the barbecue. Zeeland residents also eat periwinkles, or sea snails. Served as a snack, all you have to do is boil them, remove the lid and pop the sea snail out.

The famous Dutch oyster, the flat oyster, is praised for its refined, salty taste. It is harvested in the Eastern Scheldt estuary and Grevelingenmeer, which is on the border of the provinces of Zuid Holland and Zeeland. It is a native species. The Japanese hollow oyster (creuse) is also cultivated in the Netherlands and was brought to Europe by the Portuguese in the 16th century. If you go and pick your own oysters, they will almost certainly be creuses. This invasive species has adapted so well to Dutch waters that some see it as a plague that is displacing the flat oyster.

And last but not least, there is the Dutch shrimp. The Dutch couldn’t imagine their cuisine without the shrimp, just like the Belgians, who make their famous shrimp croquettes with delicious explosions of flavour from the Netherlands: no less than 50% of the millions of kilos caught here goes to Belgium. Not as famous as its smaller pink brother is the common prawn, but it’s still great: it’s absolutely delicious unpeeled in a pan with garlic and parsley.

Seafood in Zeeland

It goes without saying that there are various restaurants in Zeeland where you can eat great Dutch seafood, close to the source. Pure C by Sergio Herman managed by Syrco Bakker in Cadzand-Bad needs no introduction, with seafood adorning their menu all year round. If you’re looking for something even more chic, in Kruiningen, near the oyster village of Yerseke, chef Jannis Brevet cooks such beautiful dishes using local oysters, lobster and mussels that he has earned three Michelin stars.

The popular Eastern Scheldt lobster has only been found in our waters since the 19th century. They didn’t have it easy, but the very best lobsters always managed to survive and we can enjoy their wonderfully tender meat and refined taste. They are also served at Seafarm in Kamperland, which is a member of De Kring van de Oosterscheldekreeft (‘Eastern Scheldt Lobster Circle’). Go along if you’ve ever thought while eating lobster: what’s all the fuss about? The Eastern Scheldt lobster from Seafarm is bound to amaze you. Eat lobster as fresh as possible and in season: from its opening on the last Thursday in March until 15 July.

Recipe: Asian barbecue oysters

Ingredients:

2 dozen oysters

2 spring onions

2 tbsp grated ginger

Finely chopped cilantro

50 ml soy sauce

50 ml Mirin or sake

1 tbsp sesame oil

Method:

Rinse the shells of two dozen oysters and open the oysters without losing the oyster liquid. Cut two spring onions into rings, mix with 2 tbsp grated ginger and finely chopped coriander. In another bowl, mix about 50ml soy sauce with 50ml Mirin or sake and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Drizzle some of the spring onion mixture and one teaspoon of the soy mixture over each oyster. Place the oysters in their shells on the hottest part of the barbecue and leave to cook for about 5 minutes until the liquid is simmering and the oyster meat is beginning to curl slightly.

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