Zadar is a coastal city, situated in the middle of Adriatic sea and Dalmatia region so that defines its gastronomy (read our previous article about Zadar here). Zadar’s traditional cuisine is named after Dalmatia region and it is unique representative of Mediterranean cuisine. It includes some of Mediterranean ways of cooking, but it also incorporates products and traditional cooking from the Dalmatia region. It is based on simplicity, naturalness, sea products and agricultural products that are being produced on farms in hinterlands.
According to researchers Mediterranean and Dalmatian cuisine is among the healthiest in the World and it lowers risk of various diseases, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Also, it is more likely for people following that diet to have a longer life.
In Zadar, traditional recipes are passed for centuries between generations with a great pride. Furthermore, preparing meal is equally important as meal itself because it is opportunity for friends and family to gather and hang out while cooking and share a glass of wine.
SO, WHAT CAN BE FOUND ON TYPICAL PLATE IN ZADAR?!
1. Dalmatian Pršut (prosciutto) and Šokol from Nin
Dalmatian pršut (prosciutto) is a cured meat product, made from fresh pork ham with bone, dried on air during characteristic “bura” North-East wind. It is protected by EU.
Šokol is another cured meat product made from pork’s neck and conserved in pure sea salt. It is authentic specialty made only in the town of Nin. During July there is “Šokol festival” dedicated to this specialty in which different families compete with their handmade Šokol.
Both, pršut and šokol are often served as appetizers.
2. Cheese from island Pag
Pag cheese is made from 100% sheep milk and described as one of the ten best cheeses in the world. What differs Pag cheese from others is subtle piquant taste and smell due to medicinal Mediterranean herbs that sheep eat on the pastures and then it all turns into milk. This cheese is listed in EU’s Designation of Origin.
3. Salted or marinated anchovies
Anchovies are small fishes thinner and narrower than sardines. Their bones are removed and they are placed into simple marinade with oil, lemon juice, vinegar and typical Mediterranean seasoning to soak for several hours. Marinated anchovies are being served with extra virgin olive oil and represent special gastronomic treat.
4. Roasted olives with olive oil
Roasted olives are simple but distinctive dish often served as an appetizer. Olives are gathered and larger are picked during harvest and then roasted on a medium heat. Due to that they have melting texture and combined with olive oil and fresh bread make perfect snack or appetizer.
Wild asparagus grow in central Dalmatia during spring and locals often go for a walk in nature to search for this hard to find vegetables. They are served in risotto, soup or with hard-boiled eggs.
Mussels are quite popular in Zadar, specially area around Novigrad sea where are situated farms with mussels. This area is specific because Zrmanja river flows into the Novigrad sea and creates mixture of salty and fresh water which is ideal for farmers. Mussels are usually prepared with garlic, parsley and white wine.
7. Shrimps or lobster with buzara sauce
Buzara-style cooking simply means that some type of shellfish, shrimp or lobster is cooked with olive oil, wine, garlic, tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. Before cooking, do not take the shells off the shrimp – it adds a wonderful depth of flavor to this finger-licking sauce that can be combined with hand made pasta.
8. Šalša – Croatian tomato sauce
Šalša is Croatian version of a tomato sauce, typical summer dish in Dalmatian coast. Tomatoes are simmered on olive oil, with plenty of onion, garlic, parsley and little sugar. Some version include and different herbs like basil or mint combined with carrots, egg plant or peppers and celery. Each family cherish its own traditional recipe. Šalša sauce is like basic ingredient that can be combined with pasta, rice or meat.
9. Peka with octopus or meat and potatoes
Dalmatian Peka is baked dish, often includes octopus or veal with potatoes, placed on a tray, covered with special bell shaped lid and put on embers in a fireplace. Many families have a special oven outdoors for cooking and preparing dishes on open fire. This is definitely signature dish for Dalmatia region and historically, the basic concept of the Peka extends back at least 3000 years to the late Bronze Age, when the bell or lid was made of clay.
10. Grilled fish prepared on open fire
Grilled fish is among favorite dishes among locals. Its quite simple, but tasty and healthy. Choose among wide variety of fresh fishes and enjoy superior taste of a fish prepared on a metal grill on open fire, seasoned with olive oil and local produced salt.
It may surprise you, but not far from Ugljan island in Zadar’s archipelago is situated farm of Atlantic bluefin tuna which is considered to be the pioneer of such farms in the Mediterranean (read more here). Tuna farming technology is based on catching the wild tuna and it would be a pity to miss the chance to taste delicious grilled tuna steak. Many restaurants offer different specialties ranging from creamy tuna pate dip to pasta with tuna, the choice is up to you.
12. Fried or grilled Calamari
Squids from the Adriatic sea is one of the best thing you will try in Croatia.Grilled or fried, it is up to you. But either way you will enjoy delicious and soft meal that is best accompanied with cooked mangold, another traditional side dish.
13. Black risotto
Black risotto is made with cuttlefish and its ink gives this unique black color to the rice. Its a very popular dish on the islands and on the coast.
The most popular way of preparing lamb in Croatia is roasting on a spit over an open wood fire. Rarely any big occasion (from baptism to marriage dinner) will go by without lamb being cooked in this delicious way. What makes this meal so good is the quality of lamb in Croatia – especially from the island of Pag.
Traditional Dalmatian pašticada (or Dalmatinska pašticada) is slow-cooked beef prepared in a rich sweet and sour sauce, usually served with gnocchi or homemade pasta. The meat is first marinated, then cooked slowly with vegetables for 4 to 6 hours. After cooking, the vegetables are blended to make thick sauce. Every family from Zadar to Dubrovnik will have its own version of this beef stew.
We are not just a travel agency, we are local experts and if you would like to enjoy traditional Dalmatian dinner, contact us and we will propose ideal menu within authentic ambient of traditional Konoba (Croatian taverna) with easy Dalmatian music performed by local singers.