Answer to question “What to eat in Croatia” is not easy nor simple It is difficult to distinguish a typical Croatian dish because the main characteristic of Croatian cuisine is its diversity and the specifics of continental and coastal Croatia. Hungarian and Turkish cuisine had the greatest influence on the cuisine of continental Croatia, dominated by meat, freshwater fish and vegetables. The cuisine of the Croatian coast is rich in fishy delicacies with inevitable olive oil.
I will make my own list where there is no ranking of the first and last dishes. But must to say that I have for sure skipped or forgot a lot of dishes. Certainly the Latin quote “De gustibus non est disputandum” is definitely worth it, in the translation ” There’s no disputing about taste”.
Must eat in Croatia – Pag cheese and prosciutto
The most appreciated Croatian cheese is made on the island of Pag from sheep’s milk. The specialty of cheese is island’s marvelous vegetation, which is very scarce, and yet so special due to the variety of aromatic herbs. During the winter the wind blowing over the wrecked sea raises the drops of sea water and creates a “sea smog” that sits on vegetation. After evaporation of water a fine salt layer remains, which gives the plants a special aroma, so the sheep’s milk has a characteristic taste and special quality.
Dalmatian prosciutto is a gastronomic specialty from meat of the back legs of high quality pigs and controlled breeding. The meat of prosciutto must be cleaned, washed and salted in a clean room. Salt the meat at the temperature 10°C and left it stands 7-8 days. But sometimes after that you have to add extra salt and left it stands for another 10 days. During this time meat is under pressure to drain from it the excess water and residual blood.
After salting and protecting from insects, prosciutto is exposed to smoke with the flow of fresh air for about 70 days. The production of smoke is most commonly made of the combustion of wood mass of high quality wood, which gives the specific color and aroma of prosciutto. After that, drying should last at least 12 months, and the best quality shows the prosciutto dried for about two years. The bora (wind) has a specific effect on the drying of the prosciutto and is essential in the initial stage of drying, because then prosciutto have the highest amount of humidity inside, and bora drying them in a natural manner.
Must eat in Croatia – Octopus salad
After cleansing the octopus, it freezes in the freezer. Place the frozen octopus in hot water, add a little pepper and cork:) Allegedly octopus will be softer if cooked with cork. Cook for an hour .. 1kg octopus = 1h. Finally, remove octopus from the water and let it cool slightly, then cut it into rings.
Chop fresh parsley and one garlic clove and add the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Mix, add salt and pepper. Pour over sliced rings with dressing and leave to cool.
Clean cuttlefish what is a fairly complex process because you want to save ink. After cleaning chop cuttlefish into cubes and to the small onion, garlic, and parsley. Heat the cold pressed olive oil in the pot, add the onion and when it is yellow add garlic. Soon after that add cuttlefish and cook for 10 min. Then pour 1 deciliter of white wine and let it boil. Add salt, pepper, put the bay leaf and sprinkle with a little rosemary. When the liquid almost evaporates, put in the rice. This is one of the two most important steps in preparing, risotto flavor depends on this. At this stage, rice drinks all the juices in the pot. Leave rice until drinks all the juice, then pour with the broth of seafood.
Adding broth instead of plain water is the second most important step that decides risotto flavor. Broth of seafood can be fish soup with a lot of ingredients which you cooked before and freeze. At the end add the parsley, mix a little bit more and add ink (put the entire bag with the black, they will break into the pot). Turn off the fire, cover the pot and leave for 5-10 minutes to rest. Serve hot and add grated Parmesan on rice.
Must eat in Croatia – Roasted lamb
Although the lamb can be found on tables around the world, we believe that the best in the world is from the islands of the Croatian Adriatic, because lambs eat grass rich in aromatic herbs and salt from sea water, which makes the taste of meat so special.
Five culinary secrets are crucial for top lamb :
- First, the lamb should be domestic, not imported, cleared weighing about 10 kilograms.
- Secondly, a large salt should be used, about 2% of the weight of the lamb. With a full hand of salt the lamb is massaged inside and outside. Ideally, this would be done 12 hours before the baking.
- Third, the lamb must be properly placed on the skewer. How to perform that is “hard science”, but the most important is that the lamb is well attached to the skewer.
- Fourth, fire. The lamb is baked on a live coals rather than on a fire, which is about 60 centimeters away. Baked for 4 to 5 hours is finished when no juice comes out of the flesh after a sharp knife is stabbed in the thickest part of the leg.
- Fifth, the entire time of baking, meat should be fat-coated. In Dalmatia, Istria and on the islands, it will be done with rosemary branch dipped in olive oil.
Pasta with truffles
Truffles from the Italian Albe and Piedmont, French Provence and Croatian Istria are among the most admired in the world. Each experienced gourmet will singled out Istrian truffles as the ultimate gastronomic experience, and truffle dishes are at the top offers in all the finest restaurants.
This delicious specialty, even from ancient times known as an aphrodisiac, has unusual shapes and intense odors. It grows hidden in the ground and is founded only by carefully trained dogs. Moist soil is ideal foundation for the growth and the different oak species with which the truffle lives in symbiosis give it a specific flavor and odor.
Ripens from September to January the most popular Istrian white truffle has a very intense, pleasing and aromatic odor, and is very expensive. The most precious black truffle grows from January to May, and is more than twice cheaper.
Most restaurants usually offers homemade “pasta” or other handmade pasta in truffle sauce, beef in truffle sauce and cheese and homemade cured meats with truffles. The best use of fresh truffles is sprinkle over pasta grated truffles. This gives the intense aroma and flavor that enrich every culinary creation.
For now, I will finish this topic, and you definitely have to try one of these dishes. You will not be sorry to eat in Croatia.