What seafood can you eat in Croatia?
Croatian Food: 51 Croatian Specialties That You Must Try
Croatian food is great! Traditional Croatian cuisine is wide and varied, but it is difficult to distinguish dishes that are only available in Croatia.
Because Croatian food has been influenced by the tastes and traditions of neighboring countries and different nations that have ruled Croatian territory throughout history.
Traditional Croatian food bears a resemblance to Italian, Austrian, Hungarian, and Turkish food. However, Croatian dishes have their own interpretation and taste.
Croatian cuisine: Regional food in Croatia
Traditional Croatian food is very different from region to region. And although there are some dishes all over Croatia (Hello Sarma!), Many dishes are also very common in one region, but not even known in another.
Dalmatian food, which can be found on the Dalmatian coast and islands, is heavily based on fish, green vegetables, olive oil and spices such as garlic, rosemary, parsley, etc. Dalmatian cuisine is a typical Mediterranean cuisine.
Zagreb however, has many similarities with Central European countries. Typical Zagreb dishes are meat dishes, while side dishes usually consist of potatoes, other root vegetables and cabbage.
While the Istrian cuisine Reminiscent of Dalmatian cuisine in many ways (especially along the coast), Istria has some of its own typical dishes and cooking techniques. This includes Manestra, a bean soup that is only prepared in Istria, or Fuzi, a hand-rolled pasta typical of Istria.
Slavonians love their pork and many do Courts in Slavonia are simply based on pork. The red pepper is the main spice in Slavonia. Although it is also present in other Croatian regional cuisines, it is nowhere near as popular as it is in Slavonia.
Croatians have three meals a day, with lunch being the main meal of the day. Unfortunately, this has changed in recent years as many people work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are simply not at home at lunchtime. However, lunches are still a big family affair on weekends.
Typical Croatian specialties
Below we present some typical Croatian specialties. We have tried to include a variety of dishes to give you a taste of different regional cuisines that you can find in Croatia. We are not big meat eaters so Istrian and Dalmatian food suits us best.
Every fish restaurant in Croatia has one Crni rizot (black risotto) on his menu. Crni rizot is basically a squid risotto. Squid turns the rice black. In addition to squid, this risotto often includes other seafood, especially mussels and other shellfish. Crni rizot you just have to try it.
We ate the best crni rizot (apart from the one my mother-in-law makes) in a small restaurant in a village of Hodilje near Ston. But we also love black risotto at Kapetanova kuca in Ston.
Gourmet words of wisdom: Take care of your smile when your lips and teeth go black while eating this delicious Croatian food. Also, don't freak out if your bowel movements go black for a few days after the black risotto.
These delicious pastries, filled with cottage cheese and sour cream, originally came from Slovenia. However, today it is a popular food in Zagreb, as well as in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region.
Strukli is prepared in two ways: boiled in water or baked in the oven. There is even a restaurant in Zagreb, La Struk, that only serves strukli.
La Struk serves traditional strukli, but also modern interpretations of this traditional dish (with truffles or sweet variations with cheese and blueberries). When visiting Zagreb, don't forget to try strukli.
Pasticada with gnocchi
Pasticada is known as the "Queen of Dalmatian Cuisine" and is perhaps the most popular Dalmatian food. Every house, every family has its own recipe for pasticada. What is this delicacy really?
The fillet of young beef is marinated in wine vinegar for days and then braised for hours, first served in its own juice and later with red wine and homemade gnocchi.
This is my favorite dish in Dalmatia. I don't even like meat that much. Trust me, you will dream about this dish long after it is tasted.
Unfortunately, due to the long preparation time and the relatively expensive ingredients, it is difficult to find a high-quality pasticada in a restaurant. If you have the chance to eat it with the locals in Dalmatia, that would be perfect. Otherwise, try a restaurant to at least get an idea of this specialty. We ate a good pasticada in the restaurant Vinica Monkovic near Dubrovnik, in the tavern Hvaranin in Split and in the restaurant Adria in Metkovic.
Baking meat, seafood and vegetables under a bell-like lid covered with embers is, to my knowledge, a unique cooking method found in Croatia and its neighboring countries (like Bosnia, Montenegro, etc.).
Basically, you can put any kind of meat and vegetables in a saucepan, add salt, spices and oil and cover with a bell-shaped lid. When placed in a fireplace, the lid is then covered with embers. It is cooked for two hours, but after about an hour the lid is lifted, the meat turned and some other spices added, like a mixture of honey and cognac with Mediterranean herbs.
Peka can be made with any type of meat (chicken, veal, sausage, etc.), but my all time favorite peka is octopus peka. Octopus turns out really tender and juicy, while the potatoes turn out to be particularly sweet and tasty. The sauce is delicious. When served with bread, which is also baked with ispod peke (under a bell-shaped lid), it's a feast for the taste buds.
This dish usually needs to be ordered in advance at a restaurant. Some restaurants have it on the menu all the time, but peka is best when made to order. We ate an excellent octopus peka in the tavern Roki's on the island of Vis.
Scampi, mussels or shrimp na buzaru
Buzara is a method of cooking seafood, mainly crustaceans and shellfish, used in the Croatian coastal area. Scampi, prawns or mussels are briefly cooked with white wine, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. Tomato paste is sometimes added for color. However, my mother-in-law never uses tomato paste when preparing this dish.
This is the easiest and most delicious way to prepare shrimp or mussels. Roll up your sleeves (yes, buzara is eaten with your hands) and indulge yourself in this delicious Croatian dish.
Fuzi is a homemade pasta in the shape of a feather, typical of Istria. Along with pljukanci, a spindle-shaped pasta, it is the most popular homemade and hand-rolled pasta in Istria. The pasta dough is cut into a diamond shape and then rolled around a chopstick (often a pencil) to form a feather-shaped hollow tube. Fuzi is usually served with a variety of stews: mushrooms, truffles, chicken, or beef stew. You can try these delicious noodles in many Istrian restaurants, but our favorite places for fuzi are Stari Podrum in Momjan and Tavern Toncic in Zrenj.
Another classic dish typical of the Croatian coast, brudet (Brujet, Brodeto), is a fish stew. Much like pasticada, brudet is one of the most common dishes on the Croatian coast. Every family has their own way of doing brudet. Different types of fish and shellfish are steamed with onions, tomato sauce, vinegar drops and spices. Covered with water, it slowly cooks until the fish is ready. Bay leaves and chilli pepper are added to the stew to suit your taste. Brudet is usually served with polenta.
We love eels and frogs served in the Duda & Mate tavern in the village of Vid. If you like unusual (but super tasty) food, you can visit this restaurant on a day trip from Dubrovnik.
I am a rice lover. I can eat rice every day. And when I say that Skradinski risotto is one of the best risottos I've eaten in my life, it means a lot.
This veal risotto is cooked for hours and constantly stirred. If one person who stirs it has to go to the bathroom, another person does it. You don't take your eyes off it for even a minute. The result is the creamiest veal risotto in which the meat dissolves completely and almost disappears.
Other ingredients include homemade chicken, young beef and beef broth, onions, salt, pepper, oil, hard cheese and, of course, rice.
We had the best Skradinski risotto in Skippers Club Arka. But Arka doesn't have this risotto on the menu regularly. They do it twice a year: in June during the Fine Wine Festival and the first Saturday in August. The places are taken quickly. If you are interested, book your place early. They also do it to order, but for at least 40 people.
The Vinko tavern in Konjevrate is another great place to try this risotto (and many other traditional Croatian dishes!).
Manestra is the most common dish found on menus in Istrian restaurants. It's basically a bean soup. Manestra slowly cooks for hours on a low fire, with “pest” and sausages (pieces of ham or similar) that improve the taste. “Pešt” consists of pancetta, garlic and parsley, all of which are made into a paste. This paste is added to the Manestra at the beginning of the cooking process. Manestra has many variations, the most common being Manestra od bobići (bean soup with corn) and Jota (bean soup with sauerkraut).
We like Manestra in the Vela vrata tavern in Beram and in the Boljunska konoba in Boljun.
Greagada is a typical Dalmatian dish and fish stew cooked with white wine, parsley, onions, garlic, capers, salted anchovies and potatoes. This dish is very typical of the central Dalmatian islands, especially the island of Hvar. We tried an excellent gregada at the Tramerka tavern in Volosko.
Viska and komiska pogaca
Viska pogaca is a dough filled with olive oil and with salted sardines and onions. Visca pogaca is baked and cut into squares before serving and has been enjoyed by generations of Vis people for over 2000 years.
Komiska pogaca, on the other hand, also contains tomatoes and is usually cut into triangles before serving.
Next to the island of Vis, we enjoyed a good version of Komiska pogaca at the Maestral restaurant in Rovinj.
Vitalac is a typical dish on the island of Brac. And it's a good contender for a strange meal price!
In short, Vitalac are skewers made from the innards of lambs or baby goats (lungs, liver, spleen) that are wrapped in a sheath and roasted on a skewer. Vitalac is served with warm bread and spring onions.
Soparnik is dough filled with Swiss chard. It is a traditional Dalmatian dish, typical of the Poljica region in central Dalmatia. The Croatian Ministry of Culture has declared Soparnik to be the intangible cultural heritage of Croatia. For the past ten years, a Soparnik festival has been held in Dugi Rat every July.
I don't really know the origins of the recipe for stuffed peppers (Punjene paprike in Croatian), but this dish is extremely popular in Croatia during the summer. Paprika is basically stuffed with minced meat, rice and spices and cooked with tomato sauce.
Stuffed peppers are consumed all over Croatia. The only thing that differs between different regions is the choice of ground beef used in a recipe.
While in Dalmatia the meat is mainly young beef, minced meat in Slavonia mainly contains pork. Stuffed peppers are usually served with mashed potatoes.
As popular as stuffed peppers are in Croatia in summer, sarma (stuffed sauerkraut) is just as popular in Croatia in winter. The filling is basically the same for both dishes, minced meat and rice with spices, but with Sarma the filling is wrapped in sauerkraut instead of paprika. Another delicious dish for cold winter days.
Cobanac is a typical dish from the eastern Croatian region of Slavonija and it is a spicy meat stew. This stew is cooked for a long time, but always on a strong fire, and often contains different types of meat: pork, young beef, lamb and pork hind feet. We don't particularly like meat and since Vera is from Dalmatia we don't really eat cobanac at home, but it's a great dish for anyone who likes meat.
Istrian soup is not really soup as one might expect. It is a soup made from Teran, a typical red wine from Istria, with a little sugar, pepper, olive oil and bread.
The Istrian soup is served in Bukaleta, a traditional ceramic jug. The jug is passed from person to person, and everyone at the table has a sip of soup from the same jug.
The recipe is simple: warm red wine is poured into bukaleta, and then a teaspoon of sugar, pepper, olive oil and grilled bread slices are added to the wine.
Sinjski arambasici is a specialty similar to but not quite the same as sarma.
These are cabbage rolls stuffed with meat. But in contrast to sarma, the filling for arambasici consists of finely minced young beef and sausages (but not rice). It also contains some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Oily fish from the Adriatic is an essence of the Dalmatian and Istrian diet. Sardines, mackerel, anchovies, Mediterranean sand melt, tuna and bonito are equally popular. They are served in many restaurants along the coast and are widely consumed in Croatian homes. I absolutely love oily fish and am always happy to find it on the menus.
Croatians eat a lot of grilled sardines and mackerel, cornfish, marinated or salted anchovies, and sardines and tuna steaks (especially sliced steak). When in Croatia, indulge yourself in these fatty fish dishes.
Roast Turkey with Mlinci Pasta
Purica s mlincima is a typical dish from the northern Croatian region of Zagorje and the capital Zagreb.
Purica is turkey and mlinci is a type of dried and very thin flatbread. Mlinci are easy to make by pouring or quickly soaking them in hot water.
The turkey needs to be fried and then it is served in its own gravy with mlinci.
You can try this dish at the Stari Fijaker restaurant in Zagreb.
Kotlovina is a meat specialty popular in Zagreb and northwestern Croatia. Different types of meat and vegetables are fried in a large metal bowl and then slowly cooked in their own sauce over an open fire. The meat usually includes pork (chops, neck, spare ribs, and sausages) and chicken breasts.
Kotlovina is cooked in a specially designed kettle and is usually cooked outdoors. Once the meat is done, it is placed on the side of a cauldron to keep it warm.
If you like Wiener Schnitzel or a Cordon Blue, there is no reason not to dislike Zagrebacki odrezak. Zagrebacki odrezak is a veal schnitzel filled with a slice of cheese and ham, breaded and then fried. You can also find a version of this dish made with pork or turkey in restaurants.
You can find Zagreb schnitzel on the menus of many restaurants in Zagreb.
Misanca is a farmer's meal that costs very little to make as it uses wild plants that grow freely in nature.
We live in Istria, which shares many culinary traditions with Dalmatia. However, some Croatian dishes are only found in Dalmatia and Misanca is one of them.
The literal meaning of misanca in the Dalmatian dialect of the Croatian language is a mixture. Misanca is, in fact, a mixture of wild edible plants cooked together like soup.
You chop garlic and some pancetta and fry it briefly in a saucepan with a little olive oil. Then add some wild cabbage leaves that have been cooked beforehand, followed by wild onion, wild spinach, milk thistle and wild fennel.You cover it with water, add olive oil and slowly cook it until it's ready. Serve warm with plenty of olive oil. You can also make Misanca flavorful by adding pepperoncino to your Misanca.
Rastika is a Dalmatian coal stew. If you travel around Dalmatia in winter, you will find that almost all vegetable gardens contain cabbage, a tall foliage plant with yellow flowers.
Cabbage is mostly made as a stew or soup with sausages, called Kastradina in Croatia.
However, we find that cured sheep is too strong for our tastes, and we only prepare rastika with pancetta.
Briefly boil the cabbage and throw away the water. Fry with olive oil, a little garlic, pancetta and a few pepperoncini. Add cabbage, cover with water and add olive oil. Cook slowly until everything is ready. Serve warm with extra olive oil to your taste.
Pasutice pasta with cabbage and cod
I know this homemade pasta, cabbage, and dry cod pie combo sounds absolutely weird. That's what I thought until I tried it.
It goes really well together! This dish is popular in Istria and is often served on Christmas Eve. Pasutice is a homemade pasta cut into squares.
Dormice are on the list of weird foods eaten in the world. We have never tried it ourselves. Too gross to just think about. People keep telling us that the dormouse are vegetarian and have the cleanest meat there is. Even so, they look like rats and we can't stop thinking about them.
However, the dormouse is a specialty in the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar and on Croatian islands, especially on the islands of Brac and Hvar.
You prepare it grilled, steamed or fried. If you want to try it, you can do so at Kokot tavern in Dol on the island of Hvar.
Croatia has excellent olive oil, especially in Istria. Istria is one of the northernmost regions in the world where olive oil is produced. It is a staple food in Dalmatian and Istrian cuisine. Most of the olive oil comes from small family businesses that produce small amounts of olive oil. You can also find many mono-variety olive oils. When in Istria, visit the Chiavalon olive oil estate.
Sea salt from Ston
Salt has been harvested in Ston for centuries. And it was still being harvested. Unlike industrial salt that you can find in stores, Ston Salt is completely natural, moist to the touch, and enhances the taste of foods. When visiting Croatia, be sure to buy a bag of salt from Ston. It's healthy, natural, and a great (and cheap!) Souvenir.
Pita or burek is not only an important part of Croatian cuisine, but also the cuisine of the entire Balkan Peninsula. Pita or burek is one of the easiest and most delicious baked goods in Croatia.
It's basically a puff pastry filled with different fillings. The most popular pita is the one with minced meat, also called burek. Other popular pita are potato pita (Krumpirusa), cheese pita (Sirnica), spinach pita (Zeljanica), pumpkin pita (Bucnica), and apple pita (strudel).
You can try pita in any bakery. There are also some restaurants in Zagreb that only sell pita, such as Pedro Pite on Vrbik Street.
Cevapi is minced meat that is rolled into a finger-like shape and grilled. They're usually served with flatbread, chopped onions, and a paprika spread called ajvar.
Cevapi is not only found in Croatian cuisine, but in all countries of the Balkan Peninsula.
Cevapi is a part of the menu in many restaurants in Croatia, especially in the tourist areas.
Croatian ham is similar to Italian and Spanish ham, simply dry ham.
Ham is a staple of Croatian cuisine in the coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia.
Meat is salted and seasoned and then dried in the wind. In addition, ham is smoked in Dalmatia before drying. This gives it a distinct smoky taste.
In Istria you can find good quality homemade hams in the best restaurants, while in Dalmatia it is more of a challenge. The best Croatian ham we've ever tried was at Skipper Club Arka in Skradin. It is made by the owner of Arka under the brand name Pasquale.
What is ham for Istria and Dalmatia, that Kulen is for Slavonia - the most popular type of sausage in this part of Croatia.
Kulen is a spicy sausage made from the best pieces of pork, mostly legs and sometimes shoulders, with spices like garlic and sweet and hot paprika.
Cheese from the island of Pag
The most famous Croatian cheese, Paski Sir (Pag cheese), is a hard, aged sheep cheese from the island of Pag.
The cheese is served in many restaurants in Croatia and can also be bought in many shops.
One of the most popular brands of Pag cheese is Gligora. But we like most of the cheese from a small producer, OPG Fabijanic.
This is another cheese that is very popular in Croatia. Squeaky cheese is called Skripavac in Croatian and means that it squeaks against your teeth when you chew. It is a mild, young cheese that is particularly popular in the Lika region.
If you are visiting Plitvice Lakes or the Nikola Tesla Memorial Center in Smiljan, you should try this cheese. In fact, every time we travel to Dalmatia, we stop in Smiljan to buy a real homemade Skripavac for my mother-in-law as she really loves it. We can share the contact if you are interested.
Quark, a milk product made from whey, is called skuta in Croatian. Skuta is very popular in Croatia, especially in Istria and on islands. Quark can be made from cow, goat, or sheep's milk, but the most sought-after is a sheep's milk skuta. Skuta is equally popular as a starter and dessert, especially when paired with honey and olive oil.
The town of Ston is famous for a few things: salt, the longest fortress in Europe and fantastic oysters.
In Mali Ston and near the Bistrina Bridge you can find small oyster farms where you can try or buy this delicacy.
You can also eat the oysters in one of the restaurants in Mali Ston. You have nice outdoor seating by the sea and you are served fresh oysters from their own farm.
Salata od hobotniceas it is called in Croatia or squid salad is a classic food in Croatia and you can easily find it on many menus along the Croatian coast.
Octopus is cleaned and boiled in water until tender. After cooling, it is chopped and placed in a bowl. Finally, it is sprinkled with olive oil and vinegar. Capers, diced onions and parsley are added to the salad. You can also add potato cubes. Delicious!
Grilled fish with Swiss chard
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