Cuisine on the coast and islands
The cuisine on the croatian coast is a very healthy cuisine.
The tall and thin Dalmatian women being considered the most beautiful girls in the country proove the influence of food on our body.
The perfect way to start the meal in Dalmatia is with smoked ham, sheep cheese from the island of Pag, or octopus salad. There is no one restaurant on the coast that does not include these 3 starters in its menu.
Octopus salad is made from cold cooked octopus, cut into small pieces. We add some olive oil and in general tomatoes, potatoes, capers and onions.
In my opinion you can recognizes the quality of a restaurant by its octopus salad. You can see if the chef is whether inventive or traditional and if he uses quality products.
The secret of a good octopus salad is of course in the quality of the ingredients but especially of the olive oil.
Dalmatia provides an extra virgin olive oil that is as good as the famous olive oils from its neigbours Italy, France or Spain. But to be honest many ‘tourist’ restaurants prefer to use a less expensive oil and you can feel it in the quality of the food they serve.
Smoked ham and sheep cheese are the symbol of Croatian gastronomy.
They are part of all kind of celebrations, birthday parties, weddings and so on. If you are invited at family’s or friends’ you will for sure find them on the table. On special occasions they will be served with a cold salad similar to Russian salad made from potatoes, carrots, green peas, pickles, eggs and mayonnaise that croatian call ‘Francuska salata‘.
The meal in Dalmatia usually start with a clear soup called consommé and made from fish or meat.
Pasta and risottos are served as a main dish, or as a starter on special occasions.
The most popular risotto is the black risotto made from ink of cuttlefish, and the pasta is usually served with tomato sauce.
Meat and fish are usually grilled or boiled and served with potatoes and vegetables (spinach, chard, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant…).
They are cooked with the local herbs (rosemary, laurel, basil, sage) and of course we always add some olive oil at the end
The Adriatic Sea brings many fishes such as sea bass, sea bream, tuna, John Dory, anchovy, sardina as well as squid, octopus, cuttlefish and scampi.
Fishes are usually grilled, but we use them as well to prepare a fish stew like ‘gregada‘ or ‘brudet‘ served usually with polenta. Squids are grilled or fried. With cuttlefish we make the famous black risotto. Scampis are grilled or cooked in a tomato sauce and white wine, this is called ‘buzara‘ and it is very popular in Dalmatia.
With the octopus we prepare the famous cold salad, but it can be as well cooked under a cast iron bell called ‘peka‘. We add potatoes, herbs and olive oil to the octopus, the bell is placed over it and then covered with embers and left to cook for several hours.
Talking about meat, lamb is the most popular.
Croatian people appreciate lamb grilled on the spit. We serve it on this way for all kind of celebrations. Actually we always find a reason to eat it. The most popular lamb is coming from the island of Pag.
It is as well prepared under the ‘peka‘ bell.
Traditional meat dishes include ‘pašticada‘, marinated beef cooked in red wine and served with gnocchi.
We also eat a lot of salads (lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, white cabbage…).
Desserts are not very popular, we do not eat them everyday. We prefere fresh fruits instead.
For special occasions we prepare cakes made from fruits and dried fruits of the region (fresh or dried figs, raisins, almonds, carob beans…) where sugar is often replaced by honey.