Waterzoi cod, shrimps, mussels and clams / Waterzoi monkfish and scallops

Boiling water?

The waterzoi is one of those many dishes based on a fish broth and combining different variety of fish or seafood. In France, we have, among other things, the cotriade, the bourride, the matelote, the bouillabaisse, of course... The waterzoi is not stricto sensu a French dish although it is very common in the North of France where it is considered as an iconic dish in, and of, the region. This is originally a specialty from the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, from where it has conquered the "stomachs" of the neighbors in Netherlands and the North of France. This explains its name, which could also be spelt waterzoï, waterzooi, waterzooï... The waterzoi (let's go for the simplest way to spell it) has another common point with the bouillabaisse: its name describes by itself the recipe. Bouillabaisse is short for bouillir, puis baisser ("boil then simmer") while waterzoi means "boiling water" in Flemish. We will see that this is very theoretical since, for instance, the two recipes featured here are not using water, at least in its primitive form, but fish broth and beer. I imagine that, originally and like for the bouillabaisse, the Flemish fishermen used to put all types of fish and vegetables in a boiling water pot, and let the whole cook together. And like for the bouillabaisse, the techniques have improved, allowing for instance to modulate the cooking time of each ingredients.

Celeriac or celery?

The waterzoi, at least in the North of France, is said to have three compulsory ingredients: carrots, leeks and celeriac and/or celery. Regarding the latter, since those two "sister" plants carry the same name (céleri) in French, one can find either one, or both, in the waterzoi recipes that I have read. However, personally, I think that the celery is more adapted: this is a real vegetable whereas celery is what is called in French an aromate, i.e. a plant that, like herbs, are used to flavor a dish. Don't forget that this dish was supposed to feed hungry fishermen and their family, and I don'think the celery would have reached this purpose, even if put in great quantities, not mentioning its strong taste then. So, I used celeriac. And I used the celeriac greens, instead of celery, as an aromate.
Those three vegetables are cooked (almost) together with other vegetables: potatoes, turnips... and one or several varieties of fish and/or shellfish, or even chicken.

I am featuring here two recipes that differ mainly by the ingredients used. In both cases, a very healthy and tasty dish, typically in winter time.

Prep time
Cook time
1 hour
30 min


Waterzoi monkfish and scallops:
§  Monkish fillet
§  Scallops
§  Carrots
§  Celeriac (with its greens)
§  Leeks
§  Turnips
§  Watermelon radishes
§  Onion
§  Monkfish broth
§  Crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
§  Egg yolk
§  Butter
§  Herbs and spices: bay leaves, cloves, flat parsley, pink pepper...

Waterzoi cod, shrimps, mussels and clams:
§  Cod fillet
§  Shrimps
§  Mussels
§  Clams
§  Carrots
§  Celeriac (with its greens)
§  Leeks
§  Turnips
§  Belgian endives (called chicons in Northern France, same origin as "chicory")
§  Radicchio (I like the color)
§  Onion
§  Beer (Belgian of course, here a full bottle of Stella Artois)
§  Crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
§  Egg yolk
§  Butter
§  Herbs and spices: bay leaves, cloves, flat parsley, pink pepper...


1.      Put a generous quantity of butter in a pan, at medium/low
2.      When melted, add the thinly chopped onion, then the leek, cut in short segments, and stir them up so that they are coated with butter
3.      Add the herbs and spices (including the celeriac greens)
4.      Add the vegetable roots, cut in segments, slices, dices, sticks... and coat them with the butter (and add butter if need be!)
5.      Add the broth or the beer, and put to boil
6.      When it boils, put the fish and shellfish in a strainer (or a pressure cooker basket or a couscoussier top) above the vegetable pan, lid on, and steam them on medium/low
7.      Take account of each ingredient cooking time. For instance, clams are longer to cook than mussels. This is why you should either put the clams first or remove the mussels first. Likewise, monk fish medallions are longer to cook than scallops
8.      A personal twist used for the monk fish: I rolled it in previously blanched leek greens, and then wrapped in a cling wrap, before steaming it like that (~20 minutes).
9.      In case you use endives, sliced or chopped, add them 10 minutes before the end
10.   In case you use radicchio, chopped, add it 5 minutes before the end
11.   When all vegetables and fish/shellfish are cooked, withdraw part of the broth, strain it, adjust the seasoning, and mix it with crème fraîche, in the proportion of around 1 tbsp. of crème fraîche (or 2 tbsp. of heavy cream) per cup of broth.
12.   Add the yolk, in the proportion of 1 yolk for 2 cups broth, after having diluted it with a little bit of broth
13.   Serve the vegetables, the fish/shellfish in a bowl or hollow plate, and cover with the clams
14.   Spread some chopped parsley, few pink pepper corns, and a few drops of lemon (or, this my Lorraine's side, of vinegar)


Waterzoi monkfish and scallops

Waterzoi cod, shrimps, mussels and clams