When you come to Dalmatia, please do not miss a chance to taste some of the famous local dishes. Dalmatian gastronomy is a typical Mediterranean diet, based on seasonal vegetables, sea food and meat. Olive oil is an essential ingredient, you can put it everywhere, whether you are just preparing a salad, grilling a fish or cooking a stew.
This is a famous fish stew, a symbol of Mediterranean food. There are numerous variants of this appetizing dish but the secret is to use various types of fishes. The best ones are those with tasty, fatty meat such as Red scorpionfish, Blackbellied angler, Sparidae fish, European bass, White seabream, John dory and European conger. Big fish needs to be chopped in few pieces, smaller fishes are best cooked in one piece.
Other indispensable ingredients for Dalmatian brudet are tomatoes, onions and garlic.
In order to preserve the fish as it is, it is forbidden to stir brudet with a spoon, you can only shake the whole pot here and there.
Brudet is traditionally served with polenta (cooked maize flour), but you can eat it with a piece of bread.
Brudet garnished with rosemary and parsley
Known also as saće, it represents an ancient way of roasting food spread all over the Balkan region. Peka is actually a lid in the shape of a bell which is used to cover the food placed in a shallow round dish. This lid (usually made of metal, but it can be also made of unglazed ceramic) must be covered with a hot coal. The food underneath peka is half cooked, half roasted and all meals prepared this way are delicous since their flavours are preserved.
The most famous is lamb peka but all kinds of food can be prepared using this special method: different types of meat such as veal, octopus (this peka is popular along the Dalmatia’s coast), you can even bake a bread… The main ingredient (a meat or a fish) is mixed with vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, courgettes), seasoned with oil, salt, pepper and Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary.
Many households own peka, but it is not for everyday use. Usually only on holidays or for some important occasions people prepare peka dishes. Luckily, there are numerous restaurants where you can taste this kind of traditional food.
Peka bell-shaped lid
This is probably the most famous Dalmatian meal. There are many recepies, presumably every family has its own, but the base ingredient is beef – a special boneless part of the leg, so called – frikando.
This a true slow food kind of food, it takes time to prepare it. A day in advance the meat needs to be marinated in wine vinegar, red wine or a mixture of both along with cloves, garlic and bacon. Then it needs to be fried lightly and stewed slowly in a closed container. It takes couple of hours of slow cooking with various vegetables, a bit of prosecco and a lot of red wine. Than you chop the meat into slices and cook it some more. The final result is a soft meat in a rich, dark, savory sauce.
Needless to say, it is delicious. And it needs to be served with artisanal njoki (potato dumplings or gnocchi in italian).
Unfortunately, it is hard to find traditional pašticada in restaurants. Usually, you get a piece of meat in a tomato sauce with plain pasta, but that has nothing to do with this truly gourmet meal.
Pašticada with homemade gnocchi