A real delicacy, not only in Belgium
Hop shoots are the young shoots of the hop plant. A plant that is better known as the supplier of hop used by brewing beer.
In appearance they look like bean sprouts, but these have a very delicate flavor. As important as the first asparagus are for the Dutch, so important are the hop shoots for the Belgians. But the hop shoots have a very short season and there are much less hop shoots available than the asparagus, most of the time from early March to late April. Hop shoots are available in small amounts and for a short time. This means the prices are heavy.
This is the product
These shoots are also starting to be more loved in the Netherlands. It´s not a pretty product to look at and it therefor takes some extra effort to explain why this is the product you really have to use. When Chefs get introduced to the delicat and sophisticated flavor of the hop shoots, they´re immediately hooked.
The classic way to prepare the hop shoots is to blanch them briefly in salted water, than cool them down in ice water and eventually warm with cream and nutmeg. Who tasted it, is convinced. You can also choose to ´catch´ the flavour more by short stewing in a bit of butter. This is something the Dutch restaurants should not miss.