Traditional Flemish Waterzooi Recipe


The Spruce / Daniel Patriasz

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

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.

You will need:


  • 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 below)
  • 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 to 5 minutes, or until they are soft and glazed.

  4. Now add the leeks and cook for another 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 to 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

Recipe Tags: