Traditional Flemish Waterzooi Recipe

Waterzooi. Photo © Daniel Patriasz
  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 2

This traditional Flemish fish dish from Ghent straddles that notional territory between a soup and a stew. Some modern versions use both chicken and fish, but this Waterzooi recipe follows a deliciously old-fashioned all-fish formula. Serve with fresh, crusty bread to mop up the deeply flavored broth.

The recipe is from a Dutch cookbook called Werken met Vis (or 'Working with Fish'), and has been translated and adapted for this site and published here with the permission of the publisher.

  • A mixing bowl
  • A frying pan
  • A saucepan
  • A stock pot or large Dutch oven


  • 10.5 oz./300 g. potatoes (peeled)
  • 2 tbsp./30 g. butter
  • 1 stalk celery (finely sliced)
  • 1 carrot (finely sliced)
  • 1 onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 leek (finely sliced)
  • 7/8 cup/7 fl. oz./200 ml. fish stock
  • 5 oz./150 g. fillet plaice (skinless, cut into pieces)
  • 5 oz./150 g. fillet haddock (skinless, cut into pieces)
  • 3.5 oz./100 g. mussels (cleaned; see Tips)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/5 cup/3.5 fl. oz./100 ml. cream
  • 3.5 oz./100 g. shrimp (peeled Hollandse garnalen [brown shrimp] or 10.5 oz./300 g. unpeeled shrimp)
  • 1 tbsp. chives (finely chopped)
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked.

  2. Heat the butter in a frying pan.

  3. Add the celery, carrot and onion and cook the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, or until they are soft and glazed.

  4. Now add the leeks and cook for a further 2 minutes. 

  5. Add the stock to the vegetable mixture and allow it to infuse for 3 minutes.

  6. Gently poach the fish fillets in the broth for 3-5 minutes.

  7. Add the mussels after 1 minute.

  8. Remove the seafood from the pan once the mussels have opened and set aside. Strain the stock into a saucepan.

  9. Set the vegetables aside to use later.

  10. Whisk the egg yolk with the cream in a bowl. 

  11. Put the stock back on the heat and, once it reaches boiling point, add the cream and egg mixture to thicken the stock and create a sauce.

  12. Now mix well with a whisk and make sure the sauce does not come to the boil again.

  13. Add the peeled shrimp and half the chives and stir.

  14. Place the fish pieces in a serving bowl along with the vegetables and potatoes.

  15. Pour the sauce over it.

  16. Garnish with the remaining chives.


    • Most mussels sold in the Netherlands today have already been cleaned and debearded. If your mussels haven't been cleaned, simply use a knife or wire brush to scrape off any barnacles on the shells. Debeard the mussels by pulling off any strands. Place the mussels in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Discard any that have broken shells. Tap the open mussels on a hard surface and if they do not close within a few moments, throw them out too.

    About the book:

    Werken met Vis by Dutch sustainable seafood champion Bart van Olphen offers guidance in choosing, cleaning, preparing and cooking a wide range of sustainable (European) seafood varieties with traditional recipes from the Netherlands, Belgium, and beyond.

    • Title: Werken met Vis
    • By: Bart van Olphen
    • Photography: Daniel Patriasz
    • Design & Illustrations: Tijs Koelemeijer
    • Language: Dutch only
    • Publisher: Carrera
    • Publisher's Site
    • Price: €34,90
    • ISBN: 9789048816217

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