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Ostend shrimp croquettes: tips & tricks

Tasting Belgium’s travel and food journalist Toni De Coninck travelled to the Belgian coast in search of the very best shrimp croquettes. Below, you will find his tips and tricks and the restaurants where you can taste the most delicious shrimp croquettes.

There is nothing simpler than making shrimp croquettes. Making good ones, however, is a lot more complicated. Partly because of his profession, but also out of passion, Toni De Coninck frequently visits restaurants, which means that he has eaten this classic North Sea dish prepared in countless different ways. ‘There is actually only one prerequisite’, he says laughing, ‘and that is that you do not need a bicycle to get from one shrimp to another.’

It goes without saying that the number of shrimps does indeed matter, but what is even more important, is the fish fumet, which needs to be of the highest quality and takes time to prepare. The roux, which you use to prepare the fumet, needs to be cooked up to a point that it smells like cookies. And how exactly do you bread the shrimp mixture? ‘I use Panko’ explains Toni, ‘which I first put in the blender in order to get the same consistency as fine bread crumbs.’

What should shrimp croquettes in a restaurant be like?

‘The crust should not be too thick, but crispy, and the filling should not be too firm. I need to be able to taste the cognac and the shrimps need to have an exceptional quality. A good chef puts a lot of time, effort and love into the preparation. And in my opinion, it is quite alright to charge a decent price for such a dish.’

What are the best locations in Ostend if you want to eat tasty shrimp croquettes?

‘I have tasted a lot of fine shrimp croquettes, the majority ranging from good to excellent, excluding a couple of mass-produced ones, but you can find these everywhere. I quite liked the croquettes at Tearoom Van den Berghe, which is not really a fancy place, but this is not really necessary. At Le Chevalier, they offer a menu at a very reasonable price, consisting of two excellent shrimp croquettes, cod and a dame blanche for a mere €33.'

At Eetkaffee Poseidon, you can opt for a main course consisting of shrimp croquettes. For the price of €22, you get three croquettes accompanied by a salad and French fries. At Bistro Mathilda, I was also served delicious shrimp croquettes. Finally, I cannot complain about the very nice croquettes at the James in the Ensor Gallery, which offers three croquettes accompanied by a salad and bread roll for €16.

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