The Belgian people cook with the finesse of the French and eat with the passion and portion size of the Germans. For centuries, Belgian society has laid fair claim to mussels playing a significant role in their culinary heritage. Disputed for a while by the French, nonetheless the beer gardens of Belgium are known throughout Europe as the destination for mussels paired with beer.
In a bygone time, mussels were considered food for the poor in Belgian society. When tabled with the romantic treatment of the humble potato, mussels and fries – along with the places you would find them – closely resembled our local fish and chips and takeaway food shop.
How times change and in 21st century Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent you need to book a table at a fine dining cafe or restaurant to experience a bowl of mussels cooked and sauced 100 different ways. The renaissance of the mussel has seen the delicate shell fish elevated from staple to an ‘on trend’ exotic; primarily due to its versatility, taste, nutritional composition and presentation. There is no denying that mussels are a fun, food sharing experience that sits proudly on the menus of European eateries.
Like our friends in the northern hemisphere, the recognition of the mussel in Australian food culture is on an upward trajectory. As Australians, we know there is a poetic connection between the mussel farmer and the wilds of South Australia’s southern oceans. We understand it is a moment when atmospheric conditions and water temperature are optimal to bring on the harvest of the new season’s crop of winter mussels.
Equally, we respect the wizardry, when the brewer malts, mills, mashes, ferments and adds that special sprinkle of fairy dust, to make their own craft ale.
Timing, knowledge, attention to detail and passion define the farmer and the brewer. Today you can exploit this unseen magic by pairing the sweet flavour of Kinkawooka new season mussels with the delights of a citrusy and crisp South Australian Pirate Life South Coast Pale Ale. Give yourself a treat using authentic South Australian produce and transport yourself to the tastes and aromas of a Belgian beer garden.
Our palates have developed a more refined sensitivity, and traditional steak washed down with a commercial beer has been replaced by a more cultivated interpretation when pairing protein with hops.
When preparing Kinkawooka mussels, adding a lighter style pale ale, such as Pirate Life South Coast Pale Ale, enhances the mussels’ natural flavour.
When steaming, add around 1-2 cups, depending on how many kilos of mussels are in the pot, as an additional ingredient.
When you’re ready to serve, grab a can or two of the South Coast Pale Ale to drink with the meal. It is a match made in heaven and turns a great feed into an experience.
With so many tasty recipes, mussels are ideal for a quick, nutritious mid-week feed, or alternatively, when entertaining, take some time and create a meal fit for any gathering.