Vic and I were served this dish as an appetizer at The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore some years ago. It impressed us so much that we asked for the recipe. No dice! Realizing that steaming these ingredients wouldn’t be too difficult to re-create, we then begged for advice on which ale to use. A Belgian White was the curt reply. We dined at this well-known Baltimore spot frequently and surly service was never the norm. As a matter of fact, when creating the link to their site for this article, I learned that Esquire magazine had named them the #1 bar in America. For the record, Portland’s Horse Brass Pub was #5.
My first attempt was right on and the only thing changed over the years has been the ale I use. I began with an authentic Belgian White Ale by Hoegaarden. Locating this brew in Oregon, especially Salem, can be challenging. Capital Market on State and 14th street has the most extensive and impressive selection and usually has it in stock. John’s Marketplace in Portland is also a great source for beers and ales.
My intention was to use the Full Sail Brewmaster Reserve – Vesuvius Belgian Golden Ale brewed in Hood River Oregon. Alas, this limited edition sold out in record time this year so on to Plan B. Henry Weinhard’s Belgian Style Wheat Ale served us well although it was not as full dimensional as I would expect from a hand crafted brew. Blue Moon in Golden Colorado makes a wonderful Belgian-style white ale.
While researching Hoegaarden, I learned that this brand began in 1966 by Belgian brewmaster, Pierre Celis. After his uninsured brewery burned in the late 1980s, he founded the Celis Brewery on the outskirts of Austin, Texas and asked his daughter, Christine, to manage it. It wasn’t long before Miller Brewing Company invested and eventually took over. The name and brew is now owned and distributed by the Michigan Brewing Company.
Oregon is obsessed with craft beers and ales and it should be no surprise that it leads the nation in the number of breweries per capita. As a matter of fact, hops are a major crop here. Many of our local brews are available around the US and other parts of the world. If you love beer, look for them and enjoy.
Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Mussels and Potatoes Steamed in Belgian-style Ale
Inspired by a similar dish from The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore
- 1 dozen steamer clams
- 1 lb. (454 gr.) large shrimp
- 8 sea scallops
- 1 1/2 lb. (681 gr.) mussels
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml.) butter (I usually halve the butter and make up with vegetable oil)
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz. (113 gr.) mushrooms, chopped
- 1 lb. (454 gr.) Yukon gold or other firm potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2-3 12 oz. (360 ml.) bottles of Belgian-style white ale
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- A generous handful of roughly chopped Italian parsley for garnish
- Melt butter in a heavy pan or Dutch oven large enough to hold all ingredients and gently sauté shallots over medium to medium high-heat until translucent. Add the garlic a few minutes before adding the mushrooms.
- Add mushrooms, lower heat slightly, and continue cooking until mushrooms give off their water. Stir mixture frequently. (mushrooms are full of water and will release it when sautéed. Look for this as a signal to continue.)
- Add potatoes and continue cooking for 10 – 12 minutes longer.
- Add the ale, cover and allow all to steam for another 5-10 minutes. Test the doneness of potatoes from time to time with a fork.
- When potatoes are almost cooked, add clams, cover and steam for 1-2 minutes.
- Add shrimp, steam a moment, then add scallops, steam for a moment and finally add the mussels and steam until the clams and mussels are open. Discard any unopened clams or mussels.
- Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Remove all to a large serving bowl and sprinkle generously with fresh chopped Italian parsley.
Serving suggestions: A fresh tossed salad with a mustardy vinaigrette and plenty of crusty French sourdough bread would make this a complete meal.
Note: Feel free to adjust the amounts of shellfish to suit your needs, these amounts are not cast in stone. You do want enough ale to make it soupy so you can sop up the tasty liquid with some crusty bread.
Serves at least 4-6 as a light meal.
We enjoyed this with the same ale the shellfish did.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities