Tiny grey shrimp (or grijze garnalen) is an important part of traditional Belgian cuisine. You can find shrimp on the menus of refined seafood restaurants, in small coastal cafes, and in street food spots. During the season, shrimp is literally everywhere.
Being soft and having a distinctively sweet taste, freshly cooked unpeeled shrimp are the perfect snack to accompany beer. They are also added to other dishes. Among the most delicious of Belgian specialties are the shrimp croquettes (garnaalkroket). They consist of a creamy shrimp mixture covered with a thin crispy potato crust on the outside. Croquettes can be a starter or main dish.
Another shrimp-based dish is tomate-crevettes – raw tomatoes stuffed with a mixture of shrimp and mayonnaise. It is usually served as an appetizer, but when it is accompanied by Belgian fries, tomate-crevettes becomes a worthy main course.
The best place to taste shrimp is Oostduinkerke, a coastal village in West Flanders, where local fishermen still maintain the tradition of catching shrimp on horseback. Occasionally, they will cook their catch at the beach giving spectators a chance to try freshly caught shrimp. The season lasts from April to October. The Shrimp Festival also takes place here annually—on the last weekend of June.
Shrimp snacks are offered on private food tours in the city of Bruges located only 40 minutes drive from the Oostduinkerke. The visitors of the Brussels who are limited in time may enjoy North Sea shrimp without leaving the capital, on a beer and food tour.