Croatia is a small Central European and Mediterranean country which is known for its natural beauty – it has more than 1000 islands, breathtaking views, and crystal-clear sea, but besides that, as well as its urban beauty, Croatia also has amazing traditional cuisine.
The basis of such cuisine is made by the influences of many countries, cultures, and civilizations throughout the country’s past. While on the continental parts we can see the influences from Austro-Hungarian and Turkey, on the Croatian coast and islands, there are visible Illyrian, Mediterranean, Italian, Hungarian, Austrian, and French influences.
Throughout the years and on that mentioned basis, Croats developed an extraordinary cuisine rich in flavors, aromas, and nuances. Every region of the country has its own culinary tradition which will certainly seduce your palate and taste buds – especially if we’re talking about coast and islands where one of the basic ingredients is seafood.
Seafood can be prepared in numerous delicious ways so we’re going to present you 10 must-try dishes based on this ingredient! Let’s enjoy the flavors of the sea depths!
Oysters are one of the most famous (and delicious!) seashells. The European oyster grown in Croatia has almost completely disappeared from Europe and due to that, it is considered to be quite a delicacy and it can be found through the entire Croatian coast. But oysters may not be everyone’s cup of tea because the best way to prepare them, serve them, and taste them is by taking them out of the sea and putting a few drops of lemons, garlic, and olive oil. And that’s it. They are served fresh in order to truly bring those amazing natural nuances of the sea depths. Oh, and also, oysters are considered to be a truly delicious aphrodisiac so make sure to indulge in their flavors!
Shrimps are quite a delicacy. Especially those from Kvarner. They are often referred to as the most delicious shrimps in the world so of course, you need to try them once they are prepared by the traditional Croatian recipes. They can be made with risotto or pasta, but the most famous recipe for shrimps is called buzara. That means that shrimps are cooked in water and white wine with a touch of garlic, olive oil, parsley, and seasonings. Shrimps on buzara have emphasized aromas and due to that, this dish is one of the most appreciated delicacies of Mediterranean cuisine.
One of the must-try dishes on the Croatian coast and islands, especially in Dalmatia, is mussels. Mussels, dagnje, or mušule are truly the symbol of Mediterranean cuisine because they hide amazing nuances, flavors, and aromas. They are usually prepared on the already mentioned buzara – this way of the preparation brings the best flavors of these shells’ meat. They are beautifully combined with white wine, garlic, and olive oil, and the mussels’ cooking sauce is amazing for dipping homemade bread. Oh, and mussels in the combination with red wine (Plavac mali is my recommendation) is simply to die for!
4. Octopus Salad
In Croatia, there is no summer if you don’t indulge in the amazing flavors of the octopus salad. This specialty creates delicious harmony of octopus, potatoes, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. The salad is served cold and usually as an appetizer (great main dish too if you ask me!), and you’ll surely enjoy its freshness during these hot summer days and nights. Some chefs prepare this dish in the combination with onion and olives or even cherry tomatoes, red pepper, apples, and other ingredients which add a bit of innovative touch to its traditional nuances. Whichever version you try, you’ll surely enjoy its flavors!
There are 2 versions of this dish, both amazingly delicious and traditional. Black risotto is a specialty that beautifully combines rice and cuttlefish which gives the rice that unique black coloring. The dish has incredible nuances while its harmony simply seduces everyone’s palate and taste buds. White risotto is a creamy dish made with rich and classic seafood such as prawns, shrimps, mussels, and other shells and seafood. White risotto surely brings some of the most delicious nuances and flavors. Both versions of risotto are unique in their own way, but they do have something in common – their outstanding flavors!
6. Salted Anchovies in Olive Oil
This dish is based on a traditional Mediterranean recipe that combines only 3 ingredients of the highest quality – anchovies, olive oil, and salt. Now, this is a true traditional delicacy, and I must say right away – it may not be everyone’s favorite due to the amount of salt and olive oil, but trust me, in the combination with homemade bread, this dish is simply amazing. Salted anchovies in olive oil are an excellent appetizer and beautiful introduction to the gastronomy adventure which follows. And they surely bring some of the most delicious flavors of the sea depths.
Brodetto, brodet, brudet, or brujet is a fish stew/soup. There are many variations of this dish when it comes to its ingredients – it combines many fishes and seafood such as shrimps, prawns, grouper, mussels, tuna, sea bass, gilthead sea bream, eel, monkfish, and more. The best recipes are the ones made with a nice mix of a couple of different fishes and shells. Despite its simplicity, brodetto is rich in flavors, aromas, and nuances. It beautifully combines all the ingredients, herbs, and seasonings in order to bring an amazing ecstasy of classic Mediterranean flavors.
8. Komiža’s Bread
Oh, you’re going to love this one! This trademark dish of the island Vis is a true delicacy prepared by an old traditional recipe. The dish presents a delicious homemade bread with a filling made of salted anchovies, tomato sauce, oregano, olives, and parsley. All the ingredients work amazing together and they bring the harmony of flavors and aromas. Komiža’s bread is juicy and delicious, and a simply must-try dish during these hot summer months! Oh, and if you’re visiting Vis, make sure to try Vis’s bread too – the only difference between those 2 dishes is the usage of tomato sauce!
Cod is a highly prized fish that is delicious, nutritious, and healthy. In Croatia, cod is traditionally prepared na bijelo. This old Dalmatian recipe combines cod, potatoes, garlic, parsley, and olive oil into an amazing and delicious dish. Cod is usually served on Christmas and Easter, but besides that (and besides being prepared na bijelo), cod can also be grilled or combined with more fish and prepared in brodetto. Whichever recipe you try, cod will surely seduce all your senses with its juicy meat and beautifully combined aromas.
10. Grilled Fish
And now, a classic one – grilled fish is one of the most popular dishes on the Croatian coast and islands. It is simple, delicious, and ideal for the summer. Almost every type of fish is suitable to be grilled – from sardines, mackerel, and saithe to tuna, sea bream, and groupers. Fish prepared this way hides amazingly juicy meat with crispy skin and it is simply to-die-for in the combination with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and rosemary. Grilled fish is usually served with potatoes, chard, or some other vegetables, and it is a summer classic!
There are many more traditional recipes prepared with seafood – but I’m going to let you discover them. These are 10 of the most popular and famous dishes which are simply must-try, must-indulge, must-enjoy.
But in order to truly meet the amazing gastronomy scene in Croatia, make sure to enjoy with all your senses and be brave – taste something new, different, and interesting, and your taste buds will be seduced with that amazing ecstasy!
Oh, and if want to learn more about Croatian gastronomy, recipes, and dishes, visit the site KitchenToast!