The countdown has begun! The opening of the new Hotel TUI BLUE Jadran in Tucepi, Croatia is only four weeks away and – impatient as I am – I can hardly wait to see it myself. I’m already looking forward to exploring the area of Markaska with some whitewater rafting, or sunbathing in the incredible swim-up pools at the Croatian hotel. I have, however, come up with a strategy to sate myself and make the wait a little more tolerable – after all, you can always explore a holiday destination like Croatia through food! To that end, I picked up a typical Dalmatian recipe and I’m inviting you to cook it together with me. I’ll give you the recipe and step-by-step instructions in my blog post!
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Cuisine in Croatia: Always Different, Always Delicious
The culinary experience in Croatia is a big deal. The many different geographical and historical influences, along with the various types of food emerging from different regions, all come into play to make the dishes very distinct. You probably already know about Ćevapčići, the little rolls of spicy minced meat that are eaten here. Croatians are said to have a taste for hearty, spicy cuisine: hearty soups, ham, bacon, cheese, fish, and meat dishes are all on the menu. The Dalmatian way of cooking, on the other hand, is particularly light and healthy, making use of all kinds of fish and seafood from the Adriatic, steamed vegetables, and high-quality olive oil. The Mediterranean influences are typical in the region and there’s an unmistakable Italian flair in the cuisine. The Dalmatian people also have their own preparation style: it must be crispy and crunchy! Fish and meat are tossed on the grill and flipped over and over for a few minutes. Vegetables can be quickly cooked in the pan or steamed, but they should still be crunchy. The advantage of doing it this way is that you don’t lose the nutrients. Octopus, tuna, or scampi can also be found in the salads, accompanied by sardines, pickled olives, and fresh sheep milk cheese. To finish it off, the main course is topped with a few wild herbs from the coastal region.
Recipe: “Brodet od ribe”
If this sounds a bit abstract, don’t worry; I’ve found a recipe that combines the best of Croatia’s culinary worlds. “Brodet od ribe” is a fish stew prepared with olive oil, wine, and spices. It’s a perfect mix of Mediterranean and hearty flavours, yet still easy to cook. Here’s what you need.
350 g sea bass fillet
350 g monkfish fillet
350 g gilt-head bream fillet
2 large onions
6 cloves of garlic
Zest of half an untreated organic lemon
Lemon juice of an untreated organic lemon
1 bunch of fresh parsley
400 g canned tomatoes
200 ml dry white wine
200 ml fish or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Olives as desired
- Thoroughly wash the fish fillets under cold water. Dry them carefully with paper towels and slowly remove the skin from the fillets with a sharp knife, cutting just under the skin. If an abdominal flap is present, remove it immediately, as it’s not particularly tasty. Note: By applying slight pressure with your fingers on the fillets, you can find where the bones are and remove them. Wash the fillets again and cut them into four-centimetre cubes. Before placing the fish in the pot, season it with salt and pepper.
- Now for the preparation of the stew: Peel and mince the onions and garlic. Squeeze the washed lemon and zest half the peel with a fine grater. The parsley should also be washed, the stalks removed, and the remainder chopped. The lemon juice, zest, and parsley should be set aside for later. Saute the onions and garlic in a large saucepan of hot olive oil before adding the canned tomatoes and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and, if desired, refine with a pinch of sugar – the sugar brings out the fruity acid of the tomatoes. Simmer for about one to two minutes.
- Place the pieces of fish in the pan and add the fish stock and white wine. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Let it simmer, but be careful not to let it get too hot. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and let the liquid reduce down to half. You shouldn’t add more seasoning at this point, since the reduction intensifies the taste. The stewing works particularly well with a single, large pot. In order to keep the pieces of fish from disintegrating, try swirling the pot instead of stirring it. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, take the pot off the stove and let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves from the finished brodet and add the lemon zest and juice. Add salt and pepper to taste again if necessary and garnish the fish stew with olives and parsley when serving.
Enjoy the meal
The “brodet od ribe” is ready! Of course, you can alter the dish to your taste: you can try different types of fish, use chili for a spicier version, or complement the stew with salads or bread on the side. And then, bon appetit! I hope this recipe (with help from Cookipedia) was able to whet your appetite for the TUI BLUE Jadran hotel opening in Croatia on July 1st. I’m curious to see which of you I’ll run into there in the future, and which Croatian specialties we’ll find on the menu! By the way: Don’t miss a small glass herbal schnapps for digestion after the meal. The “Travarica” and “Lozovača” are made from grapes, and “Orahovača” is prepared here from walnuts. To your health!