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Must-try Croatian food



Croatian food and what to eat in Croatia

1 | Crni rizot

Every seafood restaurant in Croatia have a crni rizot (black risotto) on its menu. Crni rizot is basically a squid risotto. Squid ink is preserved and used in cooking to give that black color to the rice. Besides squids, this risotto contains other seafood, particularly mussels, clams and other shellfish. Crni rizot is simply a must-try Croatian dish. We’ve eaten the best crni rizot (apart from the one that my mother-in-law makes) in a small family-run restaurant in a village Hodilje near Ston.

Foodie’s words of wisdom: watch your smile as your lips and teeth will turn black when eating this delicious Croatian dish.

2 | Strukli

This delicious pastry, filled with cottage cheese and sour cream, originated in Slovenia. However, today it’s a popular dish in Zagreb and the Hrvatsko Zagorje region. Strukli are prepared in two ways: boiled in water or baked in an oven . There is even a restaurant in Zagreb, La Struk, serving only strukli. They have traditional strukli, but also modern interpretations of this traditional dish (with truffles, or sweet variations with cheese and blueberries). If you visit Zagreb, don’t forget to taste strukli.

3 | Pasticada s njokima

Called a “Queen of Dalmatian cuisine”, Pasticada is perhaps the most popular meat dish in Dalmatia. Every house, every family has its own recipe for pasticada. So what really is this delicacy? Baby beef’s fake fillet is marinated in a wine vinegar for days, and then braised for hours, first in its own juice, and later with red wine, and served with home made gnocchi.

This is my favorite Dalmatian dish. And I don’t even like meat that much. Trust me, you’ll dream about this dish long after tasting it.

Unfortunately, due to its long cooking process, and relatively expensive ingredients, it’s hard to find a quality pasticada in a restaurant. If you’ve got a chance to eat it at people’s house while in Dalmatia, that would be perfect. Otherwise, try it in a restaurant, at least to get the idea of a dish. We’ve eaten a good pasticada in the Vinica Monkovic restaurant, Buffet Fife in Split, and in Adria restaurant in Metkovic.

4 | Hobotnica ispod peke

Baking meat, seafood and veggies under a a bell-like lid covered with embers, is to my knowledge, a unique cooking method found in Croatia and its neighboring countries (like Bosnia, Montenegro, etc.).

Basically you can put any kind of meat and veggies in a tray, salt it, add spices, oil, and cover it with a bell-like lid. Placed in a fireplace, the lid is then covered with embers. It’s cooked for two hours, but after about an hour or so, the lid is lifted, meat is turned, and some other spices are added, like a mix of honey and cognac with Mediterranean herbs.

Peka can be made with any kind of meat (chicken, veal, sausages, etc.), but my all time favorite peka is octopus peka. Octopus really turns tender and succulent, while the potatoes become specially sweet and tasty. Sauce is delicious, and if served with a bread baked also ispod peke (under a bell-like lid), then it’s a festival for taste buds.

This dish usually needs to be ordered in advance in restaurant. Some restaurants have it on a menu all the time, but peka is the best when made on order. We’ve eaten an excellent octopus peka in the tavern Toni in Skradin.

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