Dalmatian Food: 15 Must – Try Traditional Dishes
Dalmatian food, found along the Dalmatian coast, and on the islands, is based heavily on fish, green veggies, olive oil, and seasonings like garlic, rosemary, parsley, etc…
Below we present some typical Croatian food. We tried to include a variety of dishes to give you a taste of different places in Dalmatia.
- DALMATIAN PROSCIUTTO
The best-known and most appreciated Dalmatian cured meat product is certainly prosciutto. It is equally enjoyed on everyday occasions as well as on festive occasions as an indispensable appetizer with an intense sweet-salty taste. Meat is salted and spiced and then let to dry in the wind. In addition, prosciutto in Dalmatia is also smoked before drying. This gives it a distinguished smokey taste. In Dalmatia, you can find a good quality homemade prosciutto in all the best restaurants.
It has traditionally been served with olives and homemade bread since ancient times, but prosciutto is also a great food for cooking.
- PAG CHEESE
Pag cheese is a Croatian variety of hard, distinctively flavored sheep milk cheese originating from the Adriatic Island of Pag. The cheese is served in many restaurants in Dalmatia, and it can also be purchased at many stores. There are young and old cheese. The young is eaten as an appetizer, with prosciutto or kulen, and the old is eaten as a dessert with a glass of red wine… The young is softer and lighter, while the older is harder and darker. Both represent the pinnacle of the gastronomic experience.
Soparnik is an autochthonous Dalmatian delicacy – a delicious “pie” with chard and onion and it is typical for the Poljica region in the central Dalmatia. Although it used to be a poor man’s dish, soparnik is now known as a real gastronomic delicacy, and it goes best with a glass of good red dalmatian wine. The tradition of preparing this dish is passed down from generation to generation, and it is most often prepared as a fasting dish on Christmas Eve or before Easter.
- GRILLED FISH
“Riba na gradele” is a traditional way of preparing fish on the Croatian coast of the Adriatic. The fish, which dries out from excess moisture, is placed on a grid of pre-heated griddles and during baking it is coated with rosemary moistened with olive oil. When the fish is baked, it is placed on a plate while it is still soft and hot and covered with a special mixture of homemade olive oil, vinegar, finely chopped garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.
- BLACK RISOTTO
In Dalmatian homes this seafood specialty is most often eaten as a light appetizer. It has an intensive taste and represents a real delicacy which will delight lovers of fish specialties. Its preparation begins with the brief toasting of the rice which is then poured over with a small amount of water, wine, stock or chosen sauce. A freshly caught cuttlefish, which is the star of black risotto, should be cleaned well and then the black ink, which the animal otherwise uses as a defense mechanism against predators, needs to be carefully removed. Only the diluted ink is added to the dish just before the end of cooking in order that this risotto assumes its recognized look.
Apart from the cuttlefish, the special flavor of this risotto is also achieved by the addition of Prošek, the Dalmatian dessert wine which is added to the rice during cooking and which gives it a particular aroma. Although it has a strong taste of the sea, this risotto is easily digestible and is an ideal starter at feasts of many courses, and the fresh ingredients, of which in Dalmatia there is no lack of.
- “SCAMPI NA BUZARU”
This technique of cooking is typical of coastal Croatia, especially of the Dalmatia and Istria regions, and seafood-based dishes similar to this one are commonly served with crusty bread for soaking up the delicious sauce. This method of preparation creates a flavorful sauce that gives the dish distinctive, fresh, and clean flavor and aroma reminiscent of the sea. The dish is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, while the most common choice of seafood is scampi (škampi na buzaru) or mussels (dagnje na buzaru), but clams, prawns, lobsters, limpets, or even small fish are also often cooked using this method.
Brudet, brodet or brodeto is a fish stew made in Croatian regions of Dalmatia, Kvarner and Istria. The brodetto di pesce, or simply brodetto is the signature dish of almost all Italian Adriatic coastal cities. Brudet is one of the most famous traditional dishes of Dalmatian cuisine, for which fresh fish is used. Every family has its own way of making brudet. Various types of fish and crustacea are stewed with onions, tomato sauce, a drop of vinegar, and spices. Covered in water it cooks on low fire until the fish is done. Laurel and chili pepper are added to the stew to your taste. Brudet is usually served with polenta.
- OCTOPUS SALAD
Authentic Dalmatian cuisine is based on fresh seafood, and the classic octopus salad is a prime example of its principles. Octopus is cleaned and cooked in water until tender. Once cooled down, it’s chopped and placed in a bowl. Finally, it’s sprinkled with olive oil, vinegar. Capers, diced onions, and parsley are added to the salad. You can also add cubes of boiled potatoes.
The eastern part of the Pelješac Peninsula, namely the Ston municipality, is an area known for growing mussels and European flat oysters of superior quality. Historical records show that European flat oysters have been farmed in the area since the 17th century. Their harvesting began a whole century earlier, and they have been a delicacy since ancient Roman times. They are best when eaten raw and delicate, served on ice with a few drops of lemon juice. Oysters are commonly served in groups of six or twelve, and they pair well with both red and white wines. When served with a chilled sparkling wine, they offer a truly special gastronomical experience.
- SKRADINSKI RISOTTO
Skradin risotto is one of the greatest Dalmatian delicacies. The dish takes 8 to 10 hours to prepare, and it is traditionally prepared by men in town of Skradin. Thanks to its excellent location, Skradin was located at the crossroads of trade routes. That is how exotic spices such as nutmeg and rice, which give Skradinski rižot a specific, recognisable taste, reached it by merchant ships.
One of the interesting things about Peka is that you can make with any kind of meat you like. Also in restaurants you normally have option to choose between several kinds of meet. Veal, chicken, lamb or octopus are placed with vegetables inside a dish with a heavy metal lid. The dish is then cooked in an open fireplace by the hot coals and embers which are placed over the lid. The dish is left to cook slowly (up to 6 hours) in its own juices until the meat is tender.
Pašticada is a braised beef dish cooked in a fragrant sweet and sour sauce, popular in Croatia. It is often called Dalmatinska pašticada because it originates in Dalmatia, where it is served at festivities and gatherings. The meal requires long and meticulous preparation. It is then seared and simmered with onions, parsley root, prunes, wine and sweet prošek wine for several hours.
- “VISKA POGACA”
It is another traditional Dalmatian dish that was prepared for a snack or brunch on Island of Vis. Since it is filled enough, it could also be eaten as a quick lunch or a light dinner. Its quick preparation from leavened dough and salty filling makes it a popular island dish even today. The extra cake is served cut into triangles, and contains a combination of chopped anchovies or sardines, sautéed onions, spices, and capers as desired.
Rožata, rozata, rožada or rozada is a traditional medieval dessert that is widespread around the Adriatic Sea and comes from the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Its main ingredients are large quantities of eggs, sugar and milk. It is slowly baked in a bain-marie. Then, it is topped with caramel sauce before being served. Sometimes, it is also accompanied by fruits. Crème caramel is a flan, caramel pudding, condensed milk pudding or caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of clear caramel sauce.
Arancini are candied orange peels and they are a traditional delicacy of Dalmatian region. “Arance” is the Italian name for orange, hence the Dalmatian name arancini.
You cut orange skin in long stripes and you leave it in water for two days. Once drained, you need to weigh them and then put them in a pan with an equal amount of sugar. Once the water evaporates, the sugar will be crystallised again.