1 How to Make Bakalar (Dried Cod Stew) a Croatian Christmas Eve Traditional Meal From Vis, Croatia 1. Recipe for Cod StewEvery Christmas Eve, the Croatian housewives prepare the traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Bakalar. Codstew made with potatoes, bay leaves, lemon rind and white wine, it is a hearty and delicious traditional mealthat is actually started a few days before.Cod, or Bakalar as it is called here, is quite expensive. At the time of writing, a kilo (2.2 lbs) of cod costs therough equivalent as two days work. As dried cod doesnt weigh all that much, it looks more like a piece ofdriftwood than something edible, most consumers will get by paying a day to a day and a halfs wages forthe fish. Since it is long and skinny (if you are called "bakalar" as a nickname, that means you are slim!), mosthusbands have to help halve the dried cod with a hand saw so it can be soaked in water a few days beforecooking.Dried CodThis is what dried cod looks like at the supermarket. After soaking in water for a few days, it will come backto life again (nearly!)Just before cooking
2The bakalar needs to be well cleaned of leftover fish scales on its body and dried up innards that are stringyand may be coffee-colored. Using a knife, the outside cleans quickly. cut the fish open from the undersideand pull out anything that doesnt look appetizing. Remember, the bones add flavor.Go and pick some bay leaves if you are living in a California type climate. Make sure you have a lemon andhoney, peppercorns, and potatoes. Get it all organized so that once you get started you wont have to stopand go hunting for missing ingredients.The pot you use is ideally ceramic, but a large quality pot will do the job. I have a stainless steel one - largeenough to serve a crowd. If it has a thick bottom, so much the better. Bakalar needs to be cooked just likefine wine is brewed. Remember the old commercial, "we will serve no wine before its time". Bakalar is likethat, too. Let it cook slowly and tenderly. It will taste better later on!Important additivesbay leaves - an essential ingredient for successful and delicious cod fish stew (Bakalar)Source: WikipediaThe RecipeHere is the recipe, as it has been handed down for generations. My father in law who was born in 1923 gaveit to me from memory. Its one of those things that never, ever, change!Saute chopped parsley and garlic in a large pot coated with a layer of olive oil (moderate). Add the cleanedand sliced cod to the soft garlic and parsley and saute, adding a half glass of water to prevent burning. Add
3one glass of white wine and gradually add small amounts of water as the fish gets softer and begins cooking.Add 2 T. powdered sweet red paprika for color, 4 to 6 smashed pepper corns (the wooden handle of a knifeis a great technique for this), 2 T. honey and lemon rind from 1/2 lemon. Add 3 bay leaves (javora Yeah-vor-uh) and let it begin to simmer. Partially cover - do not cover completely - this will create condensation in thepot and weaken the flavor.Clean and slice 5 to 8 medium potatoes - about a fingers thickness per slice. Add to the cooking pot, and addwater to cover the ingredients. Cook uncovered or half covered on low for an hour or more, making surethat it cooks slowly but that the stew is on simmer mode (bubbles, fragrant aroma, etc.)A note about the potatoes. They tend to cook faster than the fish, so wait awhile before adding them. Thefish should be at least rubbery - insert with a fork to test - before the potatoes join the party. They need tobe well cleaned, removing all eyes and light bruises. Golden potatoes are the best tasting. The main point isthat they are all about the same thickness so they will be done at the same time. Since they are a rootvegetable, they may need to be rinsed in water at least twice after being peeled and sliced. Nothing worsethan a little dirt in your spoon (yech!)Right before serving, its OK to add another small batch of minced parsley and finely sliced garlic to give thatextra get-up-and-go.You may have noticed that I didnt include salt in the recipe. I always add it at the end. The cod fish is alreadysalty in and of itself. Since most of the people in my life are watching their blood pressure, easier to add itthan to take it away.Cod and Potatoes Serving SuggestionSee all 3 photosBakalar, Mediterranean styleHow to Serve Cod StewBakalar - aka Fishermens Cod Stew - is best served with plenty of french bread, wine and water. In Dalmatia,Christmas Eve is for fish, and Christmas Day is for meat. Eat well and celebrate. This is what memories are
4made of - so light the candle, go to Midnight Mass - and enjoy the season. After all, it only comes once ayear! 2. How to Make Croatian Fish Brudet or Brodet Buying the Fish - Which Choices are Best for Brudet? Croatian Brudet is the same thing as French Bouillabaisse! The only difference is in the name. Its a tomato based soup/stew made with fresh fish, garlic, onions and green peppers for taste. A splash of wine, salt and pepper round it out. Its super simple, being the food that the fishermen would make for themselves after a catch. Chopped in bulky pieces, you eat it with a fork and sop up the fish broth with dry pieces of french bread followed with a throwback of wine mixed with water (bewanda). The fresher the fish, the better! Good choices for Brudet are sardines (srdele), mackerel (lokarde) and beech (bukva) because they dont cost much and they release a lot of great flavor into the fish broth. They come from the blue fish family, which means they swim in a school. (Smart, huh?) This delicious, nutritious fish stew can be made of the most expensive or least expensive fish in the market. The main thing is if the fish is fresh. To be sure, take a peek at its eyes (are they clear or are they clouded over?). What you want is a clear eye. Croatian Brudet - cook it uncovered (Does this look good or what?) Parsley can be added, but its not part of the original recipe. A little about Fish! Blue fish are those which swim in schools, like sardines, for example. They are like "blue collar" workers. True, blue fish are less "light" and contain more fish oil, but fish oil is very good for heart health and nevertheless delicious. A little vinegar offsets their "hardness" (they are also more filling). White fish White fish swim alone like the lone ranger, and tend to swim in and out of rocky crevasses. They are considered to be of better quality and usually more expensive but not necessarily better at all. They may leave you feeling hungry in two hours. Something to keep in mind! All about Fish
5Blue fish swims in a school of fish, unlike white fish who swims alone between rocks like "the loneranger"This is a basic idea of how your brudet should look while cooking (with a little more broth and a little lessfish). Mm... the aroma should be wafting through the kitchen by now...This is your fish in the "before" stages. He needs to be cleaned of his protective scales, opened down themiddle, all innards removed (give them to the cat) and halved for faster cooking.The RecipeRECIPE 1 kilo or so of fish (1 kilo = 2.2 lbs) - fresh or frozen is fine - cleaned, scaled and cut in half if very large. We are aiming for large chunks of fish, bigger than bite size, about 2"x2" 2 - 4 onions, cut in crescent shaped wedges 2 - 4 fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, cut in crescent shapes. Tomato paste can be substituted if necessary. a little tomato paste (2 T.) mixed in a small glass of water to add a little color 4 garlic cloves
6Salt, pepper, a liter or so of water, white wine, vinegar, a teaspoon of white sugar, and up to 1/4 cup ofvinegar if the fish has a strong taste (like sardine, for example).Paprika to taste - about 2 T. - (powdered sweet red paprika). The hot stuff can be used or a half teaspoonof the really hot and spicy stuff - but as always, "less is better!" because its always easier to add morelater. Once its in the pot theres no turning back!Cleaning the FishFish Cleaning 101Theres really nothing to it. With a little practice you will be a pro at it. All you need are a sharp knife,wooden cutting board or similar, and old newspapers to place underneath. A plastic bag to throw the"guts" into, and a nice porcelain dish to put your fish into. Lie the fish horizantally on a wooden cutting board with old newspaper underneath. With a sharp knife, go against the grain to remove the fish scales. Now cut him open from the belly button to the head, removing brown stuff. Use the knife to slide it from the cutting board on to the newspaper. Once youve cleaned each fish, put the newspaper into the plastic bag and give it to the cats. Use pieces of paper towels to soak up any extra blood.You may very judiciously rinse your fish in as little water as possible, since fresh water will only takeaway the fish taste. Salt the fish lightly and let it sit on a plate while you prepare your other ingredients.Right before cooking, halve him crosswise to aid in cooking time. Cover and leave the fish at roomtemperature if you plan to cook immediately, otherwise feel free to store in the refrigerator. Fish isdelicate and the shock from cold refrigerator to warm pot is to be avoided.Helpful Hint: I usually start cleaning the fish around 10:30 then start chopping my veggies and preparemy pot. I usually start cooking around 11:15 am for a 12:00 lunch. The meal doesnt take long to prepare,but it needs to sit a little before serving to let the flavors mesh. I also like to make polenta with it (see mylink) so its a step by step process.3. How to Make Low Calorie Healthy Fish Lešo (Fish Soup) with Potato, Garlic and ParsleyYum yum Good!Garnished with parsley and garlic, fish lešo (pronounced Lessho) is made of white fish. Cooked on thestove, youll need a short, medium shallow pot (preferably ceramic).The picture above shows the fish lessho garnished with blitva as a side dish. :) (Be sure to see my hub,How to Make Blitve for more details.)Recipe:2 lbs of fish, 3 potatoes, 4 cloves of garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, good quality olive oil.
7Cleaning the FishIn cleaning the fish, put the head to the left (Im right handed), with newspaper under the choppingboard to easily dispose of fish waste after youcleaning. Using a decent knife, clean the fish scales off itsbody by scraping the body against the grain. Next you will have to open it up! Dont be shy, the fish mustbe clean. Starting from the "belly button" (as I call it) cut upwards and remove the innards. The cleaner,the tastier, so take a few minutes to do it right. Make sure you clean the blood thoroughly. Afterremoving its inner organs, absorb any remaining blood with a good absorbent paper towel. DONT rinsethe fish under the faucet, the fish meat will be destroyed and lose flavor.Depending on the size of the fish, you can cook whole or cut in half or even in thirds if its a very largefish. Place in a ceramic bowl or plate, salt lightly, and cover. Leave it at room temperature, dontrefrigerate. Cold fish into the hot pan is a shock to be avoided.Preparing the pot:This recipe is easier than its first cousin, Brudet, because you simply fill up the pot all at once and thenlet it start cooking.Let the layering begin!First layer: cleaned, peeled and sliced potatoes (preferably a yellowish cast - they are the best tasting)Second layer: Cleaned and cut fish, preferably in thirds if its a medium-large fish. A smaller fish can becooked whole.Third layer: coarsely chopped fresh parsley, and sliced garlic.Now, fill the pot with water to cover the contents of the pot. Add a pinch of salt, two turns of groundpepper, and two or three rounds of olive oil.Cook on medium (out of respect for the fish). If it cooks too vigorously the fish may inadvertently fallapart in the pot.In another pot, cook rice.When the fish is done, serve rice on the plate and spoon the broth over the rice.This meal is absolutely delicious, feel free to have two plates - it is light and flavorful! Serve with frenchbread and simply enjoy. In most cases, Lessho is best served with a good white wine since its lighter farethan Brudet.Bon Appetit! ! !
8 Source: Cro Chef 4. How to Bake Sardine Pie (Slana Riba Pogaca) - Komiška PogacaThe English call it Sardine Pie. Made of salted sardines or inchune, the fish spine needs to be removedand rinsed since it may be overly salty.The bread dough consists of1 kilo flour (about 2.2 lbs) (can be mixed 50/50 with cake flour to have a more delicate texture)pinch of salt1/2 liter water6 T. oil (soy or vegetable oil is just fine)dry yeast (two packages)1 T. sugarIn a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and 1 or 2 T. of the flour, let it rise.The dry ingredients need to be mixed in a large bowl, and make a well in the middle.Combine the yeast mixture (when its started bubbling) to the flour, and slowly and carefully add part ofthe water, stirring well to avoid lumping. Keep mixing and add the oil.On a floured surface (like your kitchen table), knead the dough, in other words, shape it, press it, pull it,mash it, and keep adding a light layer of flour as long as it absorbs and stays supple. Using a rolling pin,divide the dough and spread it into two approximately equal rectangles to fit your greased and flouredcooking pan.
9Believe it or not, the dough is the most important factor of the pie. It needs to be well risen, which meansbubbly, tasty (not too salty and not salt-less). The thickness of the pogaca (pie) should be about as thickas your thumb, with its upper, lower and center filling.Fishermans Fast FoodSource: http://www.recepti-svijeta.com/komiska-pogaca/Dobar Tek - Bon Appetit!Source: http://nautic-apartments.comThe fillingSardine Pies are filled with sardine fillets, thinly sliced onion and coarsely chopped tomatoes. The onionscan be lightly fried in oil before adding, but if they are sliced thinly enough, it is not really necessary.For a 9 * 13 inch pan, you will need half of an onion, 3 or 4 small ripe tomatoes and perhaps 8 sardinefillets. I divide them up evenly in rows, making them in smaller pieces so almost every bite has a littleonion, tomato and sardine fillet. A few drops of olive oil can be drizzled and a little oregano wont hurt,either, but not too much. The sardines and vegetables are the "stars"!
10Wrapping it upThe top layer of bread dough lies on top, naturally, and the edges are sealed. This can be done bypinching them together, rolling them inwardly, or however you like. Using a pastry brush or a plain oldfork, rub a little olive oil over the top to let it get a better "tan" in the oven. Now, poke holes everywhere -the middle, edges, and corners - to avoid an explosive reaction. Bake in a moderately hot oven - 350 For 200 C. for around 1/2 hour, or until it rises and has begun to turn color. Doneness can be tested usingthe same fork as before.If, by chance, the Pogaca has been in the cooker just a little too long, there is a trick to return it to itsyouthfulness. Taking a wet clean and fresh dishtowel, wring it out well and place it on top of the slightlyovercooked Pogaca. In a minute or two, the moisture from the towel will be absorbed into the bread andit will have become a delightful delicacy (again)!Side dishesA salad of mixed greens is recommended, along with a glass of red wine.My kids hate onions but if I slice the onions tinily enough, they wont even notice that they are there.Pogaca keeps well. If it doesnt get eaten up the first day, it will stay in foil another day or two.