Taste of Croatia

Take a culinary tour of coastal Croatia to sample the region's tasty food, including crni rizot, brodet, pasticada, istarska jota and pod pekom.
By: Katie Hards
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Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: cherrylet, flickr

Photo By: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: tomislavmavrovic, flickr

Photo By: Thinkstock

Crni Rizot

This savory dish is Croatia’s version of squid ink risotto. Influenced by neighboring Italy, Croatia’s version of this deep, dark and rich dish is very similar to the Italian version, with chewy and soft arborio rice, tender cuttlefish, squid or octopus, and lots of olive oil, lemon and parsley for garnish. It’s best paired with a glass of red wine to stand up to the rich flavor from the ink.

Gridele

One of the best ways to enjoy the seafood from the Adriatic is to get it straight off the gridele. Oily Adriatic fish is simply grilled with olive oil and fresh Mediterranean herbs over the wood from either old grapevines or olive wood, which both impart the region’s deeper flavors.

Brodet

Similar to a bouillabaisse, this Croatian fish soup abounds with the flavors of various seafood from the Adriatic. You might find the day’s catch in it -- a whitefish like flounder, John Dory or red scorpionfish, plus crab and shrimp. Polenta is often served with the soup.

Pasticada

This stewed dish is a Dalmatian specialty of beef seasoned with bacon and a sauce of herbs and vegetables. It is usually served with potatoes or gnocchi, and Swiss chard on the side, but it isn’t uncommon to find it served with mashed potatoes, pasta or rice either.

Fritule

Resembling doughnuts, these little fried pastries are a popular sweet in Croatia. They’re flavored with brandy, raisins and citrus zest, and are dusted with powdered sugar when served.

Fuži

Truffles are native to the Istria region, and are a luxurious addition to many Croatian dishes, especially pasta dishes like this traditional Istrian pasta with parmigiano cheese.

Zganci

Similar to polenta, this Croatian side dish is made from maize, wheat or buckwheat flour. After cooking, it is crumbled on to a plate and served with milk, yogurt or honey, or even the cracklings from bacon.

Scampi Buzara

A common dish from the north Adriatic Sea, this is a simple dish to cook, and very messy to eat. Shrimps still in their shell are tossed in a light tomato sauce with shallots, garlic, wine and parsley. Grilled bread is the perfect accompaniment to sop up any leftover sauce.

Sljivovica

A plum brandy, this drink is commonly imbibed as an aperitif, and is served in a chilled glass to lessen the effects of the high alcohol content.

Prsut

Air-cured ham in Croatia is similar to Italian prosciutto. It is eaten as an appetizer or used to enhance other main dishes.

Istarska Jota

Also known as Istrian stew, this hearty dish features beans and sauerkraut, showcasing some of the Austrian influences on Croatia’s cuisine.

Palacinke

Croatia’s version of crepes, these thin pancakes are stuffed with different sweet fillings.

Pod Pekom, or Peka

This traditional method of roasting meat is commonly found in many homes throughout Croatia. In a forged steel bowl, meats like poultry, lamb or veal, or seafood like squid or octopus, are placed atop chopped potatoes and drizzled with various Mediterranean spices and olive oil. The sacz, a steel dome lid, is placed atop to trap the heat and moisture, allowing the high heat from a Dalmatian furnace or oven to create evenly roasted meats and tender potatoes.

Zelena Menestra

This traditional green stew from Dubrovnik is mentioned in writings as far back as 1480. The dish is rich and hearty, with lots of bacon, sausage, ham hock, potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables.

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