All you need to know about Istrian cuisine
You are a passionate gourmand and you want to get to know Istria
in your own way? This is where you will find an overview of delicious and traditional dishes which you must taste.
As the Istrian tradition orders, the emphasis is exclusively on natural ingredients, meat and fish, self-grown plants, aromatic spices and seasonal vegetables.
During your gourmet travel through blue and green Istria, you will recognise some interesting historical, geographic and climate specificities of the peninsula.
If you stop at one of the renowned restaurants on the beach, try fresh seafood. Rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and Istrian olive oil will make your dish special. And the aromatic and gentle Istrian Malvasia will lure you to taste more.
Brodet – traditional fish dish. The original brodet is prepared with at least 7 types of fish with the addition of shells, wine, tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, and sage.
Buzara – an ancient way of preparing seafood, which is aimed at preserving the fresh, original flavour of the produce (fish, crabs or shells) with the addition of garlic, parsley, olive oil and wine. The most famous buzara is made with crabs, scampi and mussels.
Black cuttlefish risotto – cuttlefish is a sea cephalopod with a special place in the traditional Istrian cuisine. The simplest and most popular dish made with cuttlefish is the black risotto, which will make you like rice in a completely different way.
Adriatic squid – the most praised of all cephalopods in Istria. The most praised are those caught with a special hook (peškafonda). Due to the delicate flavour of the sea, they can be prepared in most various ways – grilled, fried, stuffed, with vinegar, hot peppers and aromatic herbs or with a few drops of lemon and a bit of chives. Taste it during the Days of Adriatic Squid in north-west Istria.
Novigrad scallops – scallop shell. It is considered to be one of the most delicious shells in the world due to the mixture of salty sea water with the fresh river water in the Novigrad waters. The shell muscle is excellent baked, au gratin or raw. Taste them during Days of Seashells in north-west Istria.
Oyster – shell that has been considered a delicacy since the Roman times. Its meat is exceptionally nutritious, and it tastes best in winter. It is most often eaten raw, with a few drops of lemon juice.
Crab – a large crustacean from the sea bottom and a superior sea delicacy. Its meat is gentle and sweet. It is mostly prepared in salads, served in its shell, with olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon, or alla buzara.
Sardine – delicious small oily fish, feeder of many generations of Istrian fishermen and their families. It is best grilled, and is also offered salted or marinated as a specialty.
Savudrija švoja (sole fish) – top quality white fish and one of the symbols of north-west Istria. Taste it in many variants during the Sole Fish Days – carpaccio, soup, with white truffles, with home-made pasta…
Scampi – delicious crustaceans from the lobster family. In Istria they are prepared in many ways: alla buzara, grilled, breaded, with rice and pasta. Perhaps you will be interested in the raw variant.
If your journey takes you to the green hinterland of Istria, to one of the typical Istrian hills, you will best enjoy the traditional cuisine of Istrian taverns and agricultural tourism estates. Taste the dishes made with meat and pasta, accompanies by home-made Istrian wines – teran and merlot, and Istrian olive oil. With the crackling of the fire from the fireplace and the aroma of dishes under the bell, you will feel like home.
Čripnja (Istrian baking bell) – dishes prepared under čripnja (a round tin or clay dish) in an open fireplace have a special flavour and are baked for up to several hours. While in Istria, be sure to taste the meat, fish or home-made bread prepared in this old-fashioned way.
Wild asparagus – self-grown thin plant, of somewhat bitter and aromatic flavour, is one of the best-known representatives of Istrian cuisine. It is harvested in spring and used in many dishes with home-made pasta and in frittatas. Taste it during the Days of Asparagus in Istria.
Fritule – Istrian dessert similar to small doughnuts. It is usually made in Istrian homes on fast days, on Christmas Eve and in carnival time.
Fuži – traditional Istrian pasta made from thinly spread dough, of tubular shape, 3-5 cm long. It is usually served with truffle sauce, venison or domestic chicken stew and with asparagus.
Istrian frittata – omelette made with domestic eggs with seasonal produce, such as asparagus, truffles, prosciutto, sausages, mushrooms…
Istrian supa – a recognisable representative of the old Istrian cuisine. It is prepared by putting sugar and pepper in a jug (bukaleta), followed by oil and heated wine. Half of grilled home-made bread is dipped in wine and served as such. Istrian farmers used to take this energy drink, and it was also given to patients for faster recovery.
Istrian sausages – traditional product made from selected parts of pork, with home-made wine (Istrian Malvasia), sea salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf.
Istrian prosciutto – protected cured meat product made from pig’s ham, which is processed in a traditional way – dry-cured and air-dried in natural climate conditions, without smoking.
Istrian truffles – bulbous underground mushroom of specific taste and high price is a true gourmand treasure of Istria. It is described as having aphrodisiac characteristics, and it is aromatic and rich in important micronutrients. You will experience it best if you order Istrian fuži or pljukanci with black or white truffles, fish or prawns with white truffles, beefsteak with grated truffles, truffle ice cream or chocolate cake with olive oil and truffles.
Istrian žgvacet – Istrian stew with pieces of meat (chicken, beef, venison) in thick sauce. It is usually served with home-made pasta or polenta.
Istrian cattle (boškarin) – autochthonous cattle breed that is bred on Istrian pastures (symbol of the region). The meat is prepared as carpaccio, with typical Istrian pasta or as steak.
Kroštule – traditional crunchy cake made with flour, eggs, sugar, cream and brandy. The dough is cut into strips and formed, and then fried in deep oil. It is a mandatory detail at all festivities in Istria.
Maneštra – traditional Istrian thick soup whose basic ingredients are beans, potatoes and cured meat. By adding the main produce, the name of maneštra is changed, so we have maneštra od bobići (with corn), jota (with sauerkraut), beans with sour turnip, white maneštra with barley, maneštra with fennel…
Gnocchi – dumplings from dough made from boiled potatoes, eggs, oil and salt. In Istria they are usually served with beef stew, venison or home-grown chicken stew.
Ombolo – a part of the pork cutlet separated from the bone, seasoned with salt, ground pepper and bay leaf, wind dried. It is usually served with sauerkraut and home-made sausages.
Pancetta – pork flank rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper and ground bay leaf and cured in the shape of plates or rolls. It is usually served as a cold appetizer, and it is excellent as an addition to sauces and frittatas.
Pljukanci – traditional Istrian spindle-shaped pasta made with flour and eggs. It is prepared quickly and simply by rubbing between the palms. Taste it in different variations – with asparagus, boletus, truffles, stew or only with olive oil and sheep cheese.
Posutice – home-made pasta cut in squares. It is usually served with codfish or other traditional Istrian sauces.
Ravioli – home-made pasta stuffed with delicious stuffing made with cheese, meat, spinach, asparagus, and even walnuts.