Gastronomixs

Mussels alla marinara

Nick Bril is chef of The Jane** restaurant in Antwerp. Nick shares three compositions from his book Nick Bril 33 that is published in English this month. In addition to the 33 incredible compositions presented, the book also takes a look at Nick's busy life as he takes you on a journey across the world. Nick Bril 33 presents his journey from locations as diverse as Bangkok to the famous Belgian music festival Tomorrowland, only to return to the place that is at the centre of it all: The Jane. The dishes are divided into three categories: Street Food, Love Food, and High-End Food. The dishes from Nick Bril 33 that Nick has shared with us come from the categories Street Food and Love Food, which were created keeping in mind hobby chefs and home cooks.  These dishes are not a representation of the fine-dining signature that Nick brings to The Jane. For the High-End Food chapter in Nick Bril 33, which is aimed at professional chefs, no recipes or ingredient lists were included.  Instead, Nick tells the story that inspired each of the fine-dining dishes.

Nick started his career at Oud Sluis*** restaurant under the watchful eye of Sergio Herman. Oud Sluis closed in 2013, but it quickly became clear that the two chefs would continue their journey together as business partners at The Jane. The restaurant opened in 2014 and it wasn't long before the Michelin stars followed. As chef, Nick was given the space to develop his own style and apply it to his dishes. Sergio Herman is involved only as a business partner while Nick is the driving force behind the restaurant.

Nick is inspired and influenced by Thai cuisine and in his book it becomes clear just how much street food means to him. Nick: ‘If you want to cook with flavours from around the world, you need to go on a journey of exploration. If you want to work with chilli or fermented fish paste, you have to know where these flavours come from and learn the art of working with them in those countries. Only in this way can you create a new flavour palette built from basics.’

Nick about this dish: ‘Sardinia, a place for relaxation and good food. We took the boat from Palau to the beautiful archipelago of La Maddalena, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where the water is bluer than the neon in Bangkok. To escape the midday sun, we sat down at a local osteria. We ordered a plate of mussels and what a plate of mussels it was! Heavenly! You just want to sop up every last bit of the sauce with a piece of bread.  I use colatura in many dishes that require salt and a touch of the Mediterranean. In essence, it is a type of Italian fish sauce obtained from the liquid from brined anchovies. Together with bottarga, the holy grail of the Mediterranean Sea, you get a double dose of salt!’

Creation by Nick Bril, The Jane**, Antwerp, Belgium. Photography by Kris Vlegels. 

Mussels alla marinara

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Ingredients

2

 

onions, finely chopped

10

cloves

garlic, grated

1

tbsp

dried oregano olive oil

1

dl

white wine

1

dl

chicken bouillon

3

cans

whole peeled tomatoes

6

sprigs

fresh thyme

 

 

freshly ground black pepper

 

 

fine sea salt

5

cloves

garlic

400

g

olive oil

6

sprigs

thyme

 

 

garlic oil

 

 

bronze fennel

 

 

bottarga (dried fish roe, available at the Italian deli)

1

 

small fennel bulb, finely chopped

1

 

celery stalk, rinsed and finely chopped

1

 

onion, finely chopped

2

cloves

garlic

5

sprigs

thyme

1

 

bay leaf, fresh

x

 

corn oil

1

kg

Zeeland mussels, cleaned

2

dl

white wine

1

tbsp

colatura di alice

2

dl

tomato compote

 

 

fregola sarda, cooked al dente

1

tbsp

butter, cold

Preparation method: tomato compote
  • Fry the onion, garlic and oregano in olive oil deglaze with the white wine and bouillon and reduce.
  • Finally, add the tomatoes, thyme, pepper and salt.
  • Stir to combine and simmer over low heat.
Preparation method: garlic oil
  • Briefly fry the garlic in a little bit of the olive oil.
  • Add the thyme and then add the remaining olive oil.
  • Allow to infuse and strain through a sieve.
Preparation method: mussels
  • Fry the fennel, celery, onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf in some corn oil.
    Add the mussels and drizzle with the white wine and colatura.
  • Let the mussels come to a boil, shake them and add the tomato compote and the fregola.
  • Bring to a boil once more, add the butter, mix well to combine and place the mussels in a nice bowl.
Finishing and presentation
  • Pour the sauce over the mussels and finish with garlic oil, sprigs of bronze fennel and finally some grated bottarga.

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