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Shrimp and horse fishermen (Oostduinkerke, Belgium)

The horse fishermen of Oostduinkerke, who fish for shrimp, were in 2013 by the UNESCO added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Shrimp fishing involves dragging a net behind a overgrown horse. On the horse, in addition to the fisherman, rest 2 woven baskets in which the catch is temporarily stored. A horse fisherman typically has a yellow oil jacket on, high boots and one southwest. After fishing, the shrimps are placed in large metal drums. cooked. The shrimps are then hand-peeled and toasted with a regional beer. A typical beer to be drunk is the sweet and sour "Rodenbach“. If you want it a little sweeter, take the "Rodenbach Grand Cru“.
Rodenback Classic Rodenbach Grand Cru

Hint: On top.vlaanderen you can also find more information about the hops used in beer or the Flemish Estaminets & the Belgian beer culture.

The tastiest, best shrimps are those that you can obtain directly from the horse angler. Furthermore, you can also buy "live versch-ke" (as they can only say in the West Flemish dialect as smoothly as they mean "very fresh") at the typical fish stalls on the coastline (e.g. at the fish ladder in Ostend). It is doubtful if they are still "alive" after they have been cooked, but bon. 😉 We do not recommend the ones you buy in the supermarket: preservatives are usually added and these are often flown to some Maghrebland to be peeled there. They are often on the tougher side and over salted. And yes, before we forget, the type of shrimp caught on the North Sea is the "common shrimp", also called "grey shrimp".

A typical dish that you can obtain in many Belgian restaurants is the "tomato shrimp". If it is well made, it consists of a large meat tomato (which has been stripped of its skin and inner flesh) which is stuffed with delicious shrimps. The tomato is normally served on a few leaves of lettuce and with homemade mayonnaise. The Belgian fries round off the dish perfectly. Available in most places, but often poorly executed. Too bad, but it is a fact. A correctly executed tomato shrimp can never be cheap: the basic product alone costs money, so do all the manual operations involved in making the dish.

Another typical Flemish dish that is available almost everywhere are the "shrimp croquettes": they are little rolls that have bechamel sauce and shrimp as a filling, sometimes with additional fish stock for an extra pronounced taste. You can come taste them at the annual Shrimp Festival. On June 24 and 25, 2023 will be the 72nd edition of the annual Shrimp Festivities of Oostduinkerke will be organized.

Did you know that the famous "4-daagse van de IJzer" walking tour was founded in 1967 by... yes: the Royal Order of the Horse Fisherman. The hike lasted then only one day. Later the Belgian army took over the organisation but the Royal Order of the Horse Fisherman is still a member of the organizing committee.

Tip: When you are at the coast, you can extend your visit with a visit to the works of art along the Belgian coastline. See our page about the Beaufort Triennial.


Google Maps.
Indication on the map of Top.Flanders.
Facebook of the Paardenvissers.
Calendar of thePaardenvissers on horseback.
Information about the Paardenvisserij in Oostduinkerke in Wikipedia.
Web site of the Royal Order of the Paardenvisser.
Information about the Common Shrimp in Wikipedia.
Information about the Tomato Shrimp in Wikipedia.
Recipe for shrimp croquettes on Njam! TV.
Recipe for tomato shrimp on VTM.

Photos of the East Dunkirk Horse Fishermen's demonstration on Aug. 19, 2023:

Sell fresh shrimp at the Ostend Fish Trap:

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