15.03.2018. | Gastro
The Telegraph regularly brings articles about the most interesting tourist destinations and attractions in the world and Croatia is often mentioned. This time journalists have made a series of articles about the best food in each country. This week they are dedicated to Croatian gastronomy. Their experts compiled a list of the 10 most delicious dishes to be tried in Croatia
Such articles are not surprising due to the increasing popularity of Croatia, especially the Adriatic, among the British tourists. In 1995 the Croatian Tourist Board recorded 1.3 million number of tourist nights by British, and in last year that number increase to even 15.7 million.
1. Pag cheese and Croatian cured ham
An oval platter combining pieces of Paški sir (sheep's cheese from the island of Pag) and thinly sliced pršut (cured ham, similar to Italian prosciutto) is a classic appetiser, served everywhere from smart restaurants to rustic konobe (taverns), throughout Croatia. With a handful of black olives for garnish.
The rocky arid island of Pag is famed for its hardy sheep, which graze wild herbs such as rosemary. The ewes' milk is used to make Paški sir, which gets harder, dryer and saltier with age, similar to Italian pecorino.
2. Octopus salad
Making a sublime light lunch on a hot summer day, or a tasty starter for dinner, salata od hobotnica (octopus salad) combines hunks of succulent boiled octopus, chopped onion, parsley, olive oil and vinegar. This is the base, but some people add extra ingredients.
3. Black risotto
Made from rice, cuttlefish, cuttlefish ink, onion, garlic, red wine and olive oil, this delicious rižot (risotto) is coloured jet black by the cuttlefish ink. You'll find it on seafood menus the length of the coast.
4. Pasta with truffles
Found in the oak woods of the Mirna Valley in inland Istria, pungent truffles (both black and white) are a gourmet's delight, either grated on pasta or steak, or made into rich creamy sauce. A local speciality is truffles with fuži (handmade Istrian pasta).
Brudet (aka brodet or brujet, depending where you are) is a slow-cooked fish casserole, combining mixed fish, onion, tomato, wine and herbs, served with polenta. On the island of Hvar, they have their own version, gregada, which uses fish, potato, onion and white wine.
6. Shrimps on "buzara"
Fresh whole shrimps flashed in a frying pan with olive oil and garlic, followed by chopped tomato and a dash of wine, cooked for 10-15 minutes. This is the "buzaru" method, and it's delicious – mop up the sauce with hunks of fresh bread.
7. Fresh fish
In a typical konoba (tavern), you choose from a platter of whole fish (generally sea bream, sea bass and John Dory). Your fish will then be weighed (they're priced per kilo), simply grilled, and served with a drizzle of olive oil and a chunk of lemon. The classical Dalmatian side dish is blitva sa krumpirom (Swiss chard and potato).
Fresh fish is expensive and in heavy demand in summer tourist destinations. So it makes perfect sense to skip the middleman and go to a restaurant where the owner-cook is also a fisherman.
In contrast to the Venetian-inspired seafood dishes of the Adriatic coast, sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with mince and rice) is of Turkish origin, and harks back to the time when the Ottoman empire was present on the Balkan peninsular. In Croatian they use kiseli kupus (saukraut) instead of fresh cabbage.
9. Roast lamb
Janjetina (lamb) roast whole on a spit is a favourite throughout the countries of former-Yugoslavia. As you travel around Croatia, you'll see roadside restaurants with whole lamb cooking outside.
The islands of Brač, Cres and Pag are well-known for their excellent lamb.
A peka is a domed iron lid or "bell", used to cover a casserole pot, which is then buried under glowing embers to create a slow-cooking micro-oven. It's mostly used for cooking either lamb or octopus, along with potatoes and other vegetables, with wine and olive oil. Note that you need to order peka dishes one day in advance.