Fish is our oldest food, the source of everything body and soul needs. Fish provides all the unsaturated fats, vitamins and proteins you need. This is why small Adriatic fish in particular is called a superfood. Istria nurtures the best of the Mediterranean culinary tradition. Its gourmet cuisine has evolved from village tables to restaurants with Michelin stars.
Give me D and Omega
Sardines, tuna and other oily fish are the only food that allows your body to absorb vitamin D. Fish is rich in the omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamin B complex, and high-quality proteins. When you eat fish, each bite starts a little health revolution in your body. It protects your heart, blood vessels, eyes and brain. It won't make you fat or bloated. Fish will improve your mood and help you sleep better.
Small fish, big benefits
The sardine, the queen of the Adriatic, is delicious, cheap and easy to prepare. It is rich in powerful antioxidants and vitamins, calcium, and iron. It is mostly caught using seine nets. Istria's western coast is one of the most bountiful sardine fishing areas in the Adriatic. This means that the Istrian sardines on your plate are guaranteed fresh. In Novigrad, Gnam-Gnam Festival also features the traditional Sardelafest, dedicated to specialties featuring this small, flavourful and healthy ingredient. It can be easily prepared in the frying pan as a delicious snack, and it can also be grilled. If you have leftovers from lunch, don't fret. Place the fried sardines in a bowl and add garlic and oil you've heated in the pan. Sprinkle them with rosemary, bay leaf, sage, basil and lemon juice. You can use other herbs if you have them, and oil of course. Let them rest in this marinade in the fridge for a few hours and enjoy.
Good for the sole
Sole – švoj as it's called in Istria – is one of the greatest gourmet specialties of northwestern Istria. Visit Novigrad in October during Švojafest. All of northwestern istria is a mecca for gourmets. Dozens of world-class konobas, restaurants and their master chefs will be competing to put a blissful smile on your face. The taste of the white meat of this fish pairs wonderfully with olive oil and white wine. Sole is a treat you can also enjoy without any special extras. Simply remove the scales and the guts, wash it well, dry it and salt it. Then rub it with butter and bake it at 200°C for around 40 minutes. If you like, pour a glass of white wine and some diced parsley into the pan before it's finished baking. Make sure to serve it with olive oil.
World-class sea bass
Sea bass is a hunter, voracious and curious. This intelligent predator is best caught using hook and bait, longline, or even a spear. The coast of northwestern Istria is one of the biggest bass fisheries in the Adriatic. Brancin pairs wonderfully with wine-poached Istrian asparagus. Rub filleted bass with buter and cover it in the cooking liquid from the asparagus, sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C and serve on heated plates with the asparagus. It is also excellent for soups and brodetto.
Tuna is queen
Tuna is one of only a handful of warm-blooded fish in the world. It is an excellent swimmer, and its muscular body is full of flavour, healthy fats, vitamins and proteins. Fresh Adriatic tuna is exported to countries as far away as Japan. Choose only those caught wild. Game fishing is quite popular, and Istrian tuna can weigh over 50 kilograms. It is excellent raw, and its pink flesh is used for sushi and carpaccio. You can marinade steaks with garlic, lemon and olive oil and grill or fry them quickly, but be careful – they can dry out quickly. Tuna is equally good in soups, dried as an appetizer, or even in sandwiches and canapés. Serve it in summery salads with young cheese and capers. You can even make tuna pies, pašticada stew, or pâtés. Perhaps the best recipe is with fuži pasta and asparagus, served with a glass of prošek and melted parmesan.