FOOD IN CROATIA
Traditional Croatian food varies greatly from region to region. And although some dishes can be found all over Croatia, many dishes are very common in one region but not even known in another.
Dalmatian food, which can be found on the Dalmatian coast and islands, is strongly based on fish, green vegetables, olive oil and spices such as garlic, rosemary, parsley, etc. Dalmatian cuisine is a typically Mediterranean cuisine.
Zagreb, on the other hand, 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 Istrian cuisine is in many ways reminiscent of Dalmatian cuisine (especially along the coast), Istria has some of its own typical dishes and cooking techniques. These include manestra, a bean soup prepared only in Istria, or fuzi, a hand-rolled pasta typical of Istria.
Slavonians love their pork and many dishes in Slavonia are simply based on pork. Red pepper is the main spice in Slavonia. Although it is also present in other Croatian regional cuisines, it is by far not as popular as in Slavonia.
Below we present some typical Croatian specialities.
Every fish restaurant in Croatia has a crni rizot (black risotto) on their menu. Crni rizot is basically a squid risotto. Squid colours the rice black. Besides squid, this risotto often contains other seafood, especially mussels and other shellfish. You simply have to try crni rizot.
PASTICADA WITH GNOCCHI
Pasticada is called the “queen of Dalmatian cuisine” and is perhaps the most popular Dalmatian food. Every house, every family has its own recipe for pasticada.
The fillet of young beef is marinated in wine vinegar for days and then braised for hours, first in its own juices and later with red wine and served with homemade gnocchi.
Baking meat, seafood and vegetables under a bell-shaped lid covered with embers is, as far as I know, a unique cooking method found in Croatia and its neighbouring countries (such as Bosnia, Montenegro, etc.).
Basically, you can put any kind of meat and vegetables in a pot, salt it, add spices and oil and cover it with a bell-shaped lid. 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 favourite peka of all time is octopus peka. Octopus becomes really tender and juicy while the potatoes become extra sweet and delicious. The sauce is delicious. When served with bread that is also baked with ispod peke (under a bell-like lid), it is a feast for the taste buds.