Top 10 Adriatic Coast Specialties You Must Try

The Croatian Adriatic is a true paradise for true gourmets because it has been the intersection of cultures since the dawn of civilization, and each brought with it its own customs and styles that would leave a mark and weave into the identity of the space and the people who inhabit it…

The cuisine of the area blends the heritage of the three continents of the Mediterranean basin, and is defined by fresh local ingredients, olive oil and indigenous spices, with the simplicity of preparation that allows the ingredients to shine in their full natural splendor.

All this fusion has resulted in countless traditional recipes, but we have made an effort to choose 10 specialties for you to try. We ranked the dishes in a random order…

1.Dalmatian Pašticada with Gnocchi

…although people in Dalmatia will certainly insist that pašticada with gnocchi is, without a doubt, the number one! We cannot contradict them because this long-cooking specialty, made from the finest parts of stuffed beef that has been cooked in herbs and sautéed on vegetables, wine and prunes for a long time, is the definition of pleasure food, and Dalmatian mothers and grandmothers prepare it for all celebrations and gatherings without exception. Of course, following a family recipe, passed down through generations, and accompanied by handmade gnocchi, potato dumplings.

Pasticada with gnocchi

2.Brudet

Brudet is a fish stew that is prepared from as many different fish species as possible, while the most popular varieties also include cephalopods such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Wine, vinegar and vegetables give the dish a characteristic rich sweet and sour taste, sliced potatoes make this dish filling even when served as the main dish, and fish meat that is extremely soft retains the natural taste of the sea regardless of the entire additional range of aromas in which it was prepared. Be sure to immerse your bread in this magical sauce, this is not the time for counting carbohydrates!

Brudet

3.Žgvacet with Fuži

Istrian žgvacet with fuži is a popular and rich farm workers’ dish similar to goulash, but with one important difference—goulash starts from onions and vegetables sautéed in oil, after which meat is added, while the procedure for žgvacet is the other way around: first you add the meat and then onions and vegetables. But whatever you call it, the result is an irresistibly aromatic sauce with chicken meat that just falls off the bones. Although it can be prepared with different side dishes, purists will be happy to tell you that the only right choice are homemade Istrian fuži.

Fuži

4.Marinated Sardines

Sardines used to be known as “fish for the poor”, but fish prices went up considerably a long time ago, and sardine prices were also affected, both because of their taste and versatility of preparation and because of their fantastic nutritional values. One of these recipes “for the poor”, which are now recognized as top delicacies, certainly includes marinated sardines, i.e., roasted or fried sardines, which are then placed with onion slices in a marinade made out of lemon, parsley, wine vinegar and olive oil. You can eat this marinated fish for days after preparation, but the question is whether you will have the strength to keep it waiting.

Marinated sardines

5.Peka

In the Dalmatian hinterland, but also in the entire country, peka (a dish prepared under the bell) is a specialty that gathers generations at large and small family celebrations, and women are especially fond of it because their husbands take care of it. Peka is, in fact, traditionally a “man’s job”! Under the bell, one can put lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, and even fish, always with lots of potatoes and different types of vegetables and spices. Aromatic sauce, incredibly tender meat, and pieces of vegetables melting in your mouth are trademarks of masterfully baked peka.

Traditional peka

6.Truffles

The gastronomic richness of Adriatic cuisine is determined by cultural influences, but also by geography, so each region hides its unique characteristics. Istrian truffles are a divine gift to the forests of the Istrian hinterland, as well as one of the most expensive foods in the world, but fortunately, they are also abundant here, and they do not require large quantities for a magnificent pleasure. With eggs, on steaks, in pasta, it makes no difference because Istrian truffles are the ultimate gourmet sensation in every possible form.

Pasta with black truffles

7.Black Risotto

Just by looking at this dark delicacy, you realize that this will be a both bitter and sweet, but also an unforgettable experience! The black risotto is usually prepared from cuttlefish, and its ink, mixed into it during the preparation, gives it its distinctive color after which it is named. A little Parmesan cheese for extra creaminess and voilà, enjoy a meal that’s different from anything you’ve ever tasted!

Black risotto

8.Dubrovnik Rozata

On the coast and islands, due to perpetual problems with supply, and once with cooling as well, dry desserts such as kroštule (sweet fried knots), klašuni (filled biscuits) and cukarini (dry biscuits) were traditionally prepared, but one cream cake has been spread throughout the Dalmatian coast and islands for centuries. It is an egg cream on caramel sauce, whose closest relatives are flan, crème caramel, and crème brulée. The Dubrovnik rozata, which owes its unique aroma to the tempting liqueur of roses, is particularly popular.

Dubrovnik rozata

9.Rab Cake

Legend has it that the Rab cake was first served in the 12th century, to Pope Alexander III himself, who found refuge there after a shipwreck. Traditional recipe, written in calligraphy, is kept in the monastery of St. Andrew, and without it holidays or island festivities are unthinkable. Prepared usually in the extravagant form of a snail, this cake, made out of filigree-shaped dough, seduces you at the first glance, but the intoxicating taste of almonds, flavored with grated orange and lemon peels, as well as quite a rich dose of mandatory maraschino, is even more luxurious than its sensational exterior. Cake for all your senses!

Rab cake

10.Croatian Wines an Olive Oils

In Istria, there are the seductive Malvasia and cheeky Teran, on the Kvarner islands the tempting Žlahtina, in Dalmatia the not-to-miss Plavac, and the islands seem to compete whose white wine is more unusual and striking—to some it is the mighty Pošip from Korčula, to some it is the stunning Vugava from the island of Vis. But everybody agrees that the wines of the Croatian Adriatic are of top quality, and one should take a long and slow trip to discover them—from island to island, from bay to bay!

Wine and grapes

Only indigenous domestic olives are older than the ancient wine varieties. Did you know that on the Brijuni Islands there is an olive tree that has been there since before Christ, and it still bears fruit from which oil is made? The olive oil of Istria and Dalmatia is a tradition that goes back to prehistoric times, without which there is absolutely no menu and everyday life in general. During recent decades it has been recognized all over the world and every day it wins grand prix awards and gold medals all over the planet.

Olive oil

Enjoy the sun, sea and specialties of the Croatian Adriatic. Bon appétit!

Bloggers, journalists, tourist guides, artists, entertainers and all kinds of hospitality experts and enthusiasts have gathered under the ValamArtists handle to lovingly bring you the best out of the Croatian holiday experience. Enjoy the ride!
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