Even though there are hundreds of dishes common for Adriatic region, we have selected the most famous ones, but also those that would satisfy people with different tastes. Traditional Dalmatian food has been developed under various influences during the rich history of this wonderful Croatian region. Gourmet experience is one of the most important parts of overall travel experience, and with customers being more informed than ever, authentic food and experiences are a must for most travelers. Let’s check some of the most popular traditional Dalmatian dishes.
Pašticada is one of the most famous examples of traditional Dalmatian food. It is a slow-cooked beef infused with a rich and complex combination of flavors, making it a true culinary delight. The dish is made with beef marinated in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, garlic, and a variety of herbs and spices. It is then slowly cooked in a sauce made with tomatoes, beef broth, onions, carrots, and prunes, which gives the dish its sweet and tangy flavor. One of the unique ingredients in pašticada is prošek, a sweet dessert wine that is often used to enhance the flavor of the sauce. The wine is added towards the end of the cooking process, giving the dish a subtle sweetness that perfectly balances the savory flavors. Most often, pašticada is served with homemade gnocchi, which helps to soak up the rich sauce and bring out the full flavor of the dish. It’s common meal to prepare on special occasions or a family gathering, as it can be prepared in advance and reheated just before serving. Despite pašticada’s Dalmatian origin, it’s a symbol of the country’s rich culinary heritage and it’s a popular dish nationwide.
Whether you make it with fish or meat, peka is one of the most appreciated Dalmatian dishes. This is not something you can prepare in a short period of time. To make good peka, it takes at least 3 hours. But what is peka at all? Peka is a mixture of chunked meat or fish with vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions, or zucchinis put in a round pan and covered with lid. Once covered with lid, hot charcoal is placed on the lid and baked for 2-3 hours. Peka is often seasoned with rosemary sprig and bay leaves, as well as with prošek (dessert wine, don’t confuse it with the Italian prosecco). Most popular version of pekas are with octopus, veal, and lamb. Since peka needs more time to be prepared, you’ll need to order it in advance.
The origin of soparnik comes from Poljica Republic (or Poljica duchy. It is a type of thin savory pie made with a mixture of Swiss chard, onions, garlic, parsley, and olive oil being put between two layers of thin and crispy dough. Soparnik has a long and rich history, dating back to the 15th century when it was first created by the peasants living in the Poljica Republic. At that time, soparnik was a staple food of the local people, and it was often eaten as a main meal or as a snack during the long days of hard work in the fields. To make soparnik, the Swiss chard and other ingredients are finely chopped and mixed to form a filling. The dough is then made with flour, water, and a pinch of salt, rolled out thinly, and the filling is spread over one half of the dough. The other half of the dough is then folded over and sealed, and the whole pie is baked in a wood-fired oven until it is golden brown and crispy. Soparnik can be enjoyed both hot or cold. It is a perfect meal for vegetarians and those who are looking for a healthy and nutritious option, as it is packed with vitamins and minerals from the Swiss chard and other vegetables.
Black risotto ("Crni Rižot" in Croatian), is a delicious and unique looking dish that originates from the Adriatic regions of Croatia. It’s made by combining traditional risotto ingredients such as arborio rice, onions, garlic, and Parmesan cheese with the ink of cuttlefish, which gives the dish its distinctive dark color and rich flavor. When added to the risotto, ink infuses the dish with a deep, earthy flavor being both satisfying and complex at the same time. Black risotto is a popular seafood dish in Croatia that is often enjoyed as a main course or as part of a multi-course meal. It is a testament to the country's rich culinary history and its deep connection to the Adriatic Sea.
Gregada is a traditional fish stew very common for the coast of Croatia. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that combines a variety of fresh seafood with potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. The dish is traditionally made with a variety of fish caught in the Adriatic Sea, including monkfish, sea bass, and grouper. The fish is first cleaned and filleted, and then cooked in a pot with a mixture of onions, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes. The dish is then simmered slowly over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld together and create a rich and delicious stew. One of the key ingredients in gregada is olive oil, which is used generously in the dish to add richness and depth of flavor. Gregada is typically served with a side of fresh bread or polenta, which helps to soak up the delicious broth. It is a perfect dish for a family meal or a special occasion, as it is easy to prepare and can be made in advance and reheated just before serving.
Mišanca (or mišancija) is a mixture of wild herbs that can be found all over Dalmatia. For centuries this was the type of food that has fed generations. In old times, before all the modern comfort, mišanca used to be a pillar of Dalmatia’s nutrition because meat and fish were not common on menus as they are today. Mišanca is eaten raw or thermally processed. You can even make pesto from it by adding some oil and nuts. It’s consumed in period from spring till autumn.
Roast lamb on spit is a traditional dish typically prepared for special occasions and celebrations. It involves slowly roasting a whole lamb on a spit over an open flame, which gives the meat a delicious smoky flavor. After seasoning, the lamb is being skewered and roasted on the spit. The lamb is rotated continuously on the spit over the fire, which helps to evenly cook the meat and ensure that it stays moist and tender. The dish is typically served with a variety of sides, such as roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, fresh bread and most important green onions. It is a perfect meal for a large gathering or a family celebration, as it can feed a large number of people.
One of the reasons why this dish is so adored is because to make it, it takes 2 days. This is one of the reasons why it’s usually prepared for more people. The first day, you should prepare broth consisting of various vegetables, calf shank and some chicken. This is being slowly cooked for hours. Some people cook this for up to 20 hours! The following day you’d stew onions and veal cut into small cubes for hours, until meat disintegrates into fibers. At this point, rice is put in the pot, and broth is gradually added to the risotto. When it’s almost done, grated sheep cheese is added to the risotto. The dedication required in preparing this dish is truly amazing and despite the long period to prepare it, it really pays off once you eat it.