Five Istrian dishes you ought to try when in Istria include cold cuts, bean soup, pasta, steaks and scrambled eggs. Don't get me wrong, Istria has many more traditional dishes than these five. But I tried to think of ones you will find in majority, if not in every, traditional Istrian restaurants.
If you are visiting, don't miss tasting these five delicious dishes.
Genuine Istrian Dishes
#1: Manestra – Bean soup (plain, with cabbage, with corn,…)
To my knowledge this is the only region in Croatia where bean soup is given a special name and place in a regional cuisine. Manestra is actually a bean soup. Cooked slowly on a low fire for hours with cured meat and bones, this delicious soup is one of the Istrian trademarks. Varieties include bean soup with corn and bean soup with sauerkraut. Although it can be a little bit heavy for hot summer days, it is still a must try when in Istria.
#2: Pasta (game, cattle, mushrooms, truffles)
Pasta is served everywhere in the world, so there is nothing special about just another pasta dish, somebody would say. Yet, pasta made it to my list of five genuine Istrian dishes you shouldn't miss. First reason is that in the majority of Istrian traditional restaurants you will be served fresh, homemade pasta. Admit!, it is a go, go. Second, Istrians have their own, indigenous types of pasta. One type, fuzi, is a quill shaped pasta, similar to Italian penne but with horizontal rather than vertical ridges. Another type, pljukanci, is a thin and long, hand-rolled pasta. The most popular pasta sauces are: chicken, game or cuttle meat goulash and without a doubt, pasta with truffles. If you haven't known the largest white truffle in the world was actually found in Istria.
#3: Cold cuts (pork loin, sausages, prosciutto, …)
Istrian cured meat is excellent. It is prepared from pork. In majority of local eateries, you can sample their homemade cold cuts: prosciutto, sausages, pork loin.
Let me tell you, Istrian meat is of an excellent quality. Certainly, far less famous than Argentinian beef, Istrian beef is still absolutely worth tasting when in Istria. At many local eateries the meat served is homegrown, fresh, cut to order and delicious. Fillet, T-bone steak or a rib, steak aficionados will not be disappointed with the choice and quality of beef cuts in Istria. For the ultimate Istrian experience, order boskarin steak. Boskarin, an Istrian ox, is a white and grey long horned cattle, and a symbol of the region.
#5: Scrambled eggs (truffles, wild asparagus, wild mushrooms)
It is a simple dish, prepared everywhere in the world. Still, my feeling is that there is no place in the world that pays so much attention to scrambled eggs like Istria. Here it is offered everywhere. Variations offered depend on the season: wild asparagus in spring, wild mushrooms in fall and truffles in winter.
If you liked this post, you might like Momondo's blog post on 5 Croatian regional bites.
What do you think about these five Istrian dishes? Would you taste them?