11 Weird Croatian Dishes for the Intrepid Foodies

Croatia, known for its breathtaking coastline along the Adriatic Sea, rich history, and vibrant culture, offers an intriguing culinary landscape.

Croatian cuisine is a testament to the country’s diverse regions. From the seaside freshness of Dalmatia to the rustic, hearty flavors of Slavonia, traditional Croatian food is an absolute must-try for any food lover.

But beyond the popular dishes that grace every tourist’s Instagram, there lies a world of weird Croatian dishes that promise an adventure for your taste buds.

Weird Croatian Dishes, Illustration

From the adventurous (hello, dormouse!) to the unique (pasta cake, anyone?), these dishes offer a glimpse into Croatia’s rich cultural tapestry. Whether you’re a foodie, an adventure traveler, or a curious visitor, tasting these wonderful and weird foods in Croatia is a must.

Here’s a list of 9 unusual Croatian dishes that are as fascinating as they are flavorful.

1. Vitalac

Vitalac, Lamb offal, Weird Croatian Food, Konoba Kopacina., Brac Island

Croatian Name: Vitalac (vee-tah-lats)

Definition: A skewered dish made from lamb offal wrapped in lamb intestines.

Recipe: The offal is seasoned, wrapped, skewered, and then slowly roasted over an open fire.

Origin: Brač Island

Where to Try: Konoba Kopacina in Donji Humac (location) offers an authentic island experience.

Local Tip: Traditionally prepared during spring lamb season, vitalac is a rare delicacy celebrating the island’s pastoral life.

2. Istarska Supa (Istrian Soup)

Croatian Name: Istarska supa (ees-tars-ka soo-pa)

Definition: A unique soup made with red wine, olive oil, sugar, and toasted bread.

Recipe: Red wine is heated with olive oil and sugar and poured over toasted bread in a traditional clay pot.

Origin: Istria

Where to Try: During the annual Festival of Istarska Supa in Rovinjsko selo in January, or in Konoba Astarea in Brtonigla (location).

Interesting Fact: This unusual Croatian dish was traditionally given to the sick to help them recover quickly, or to laborers to refresh and warm up after a hard day’s work outside. It is served in a bukaleta, a traditional Istrian clay jug. The Istrian soup is always shared among the people at the table, with the bukaleta passed from hand to hand and mouth to mouth.

3. Puh (Dormouse)

Puh, Dormice, Weird Croatian Food

Croatian Name: Puh (pooh)

English translation: Dormouse

Definition: A historical dish of roasted dormouse, once considered a delicacy by Roman aristocrats.

Short Recipe: The dormouse is marinated, grilled, or stewed and often served with potatoes and vegetables.

Origin: Brac and Hvar Islands

Where to Try: Puh (dormouse) is not commonly found on restaurant menus. This traditional delicacy is usually prepared at home. However, if you are curious to taste this unusual Croatian food, you can order it in advance at Tavern Kokot in Dol on Hvar Island (location) or at Tavern Toni in Dol on Brac Island (location).

Interesting Fact: Dormice was a great delicacy in Roman times that ancient Romans fattened them with walnuts and chestnuts.

4. Žabe i Jegulje (Frogs and Eels)

Croatian Name: Žabe i jegulje (zhah-beh ee yeh-gool-yeh)

English Translation: Frogs & Eels

Definition: A stew made of frogs and eels, often found in the Neretva Delta.

Short Recipe: The meats are simmered with onions and herbs in a rich broth with tomato sauce and vinegar.

Origin: Neretva Delta

Where to Try: Konoba Duda I Mate in the village of Vid (location) offers a picturesque delta view while you dine.

Interesting Fact: Restaurants in this area also offer boat rides in traditional boats called “lađa” through the canals and backwaters of the river. These boats are adapted to serve food onboard, allowing you to enjoy a boat ride through reeds and marshes while sampling this unique Croatian dish. It’s highly recommended!

5. Krvavica (Blood Sausage)

Krvavica, Blood Sausage, Weird Croatian Food

Croatian Name: Krvavica (kr-vah-vee-tsa)

English Translation: Blood Sausage or Black Pudding

Definition: Krvavica is a type of blood sausage made from pork blood and offal, often eaten with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes during winter months.

Short Recipe: The blood is mixed with fillers like rice, cornmeal or buckwheat, then stuffed into a casing and boiled.

Origin: All over Croatia

Where to Try: Restaurant Purger (location) in Zagreb serves traditional Croatian dishes, including krvavica.

Interesting Fact: Croatia has various versions of black pudding, each unique to its region. In Istria, they add chocolate; on Pag Island, they add raisins; in Dalmatia, they add cornmeal; in northern Croatia, buckwheat; and in Slavonia, they mix in leftovers like ears, brains, cartilage, paprika, and garlic.

6. Tripice (Tripe)

Tripice sa slanutkom, Tripe with chickpeas, weird Croatian food

Croatian Name: Tripice (tree-pee-tseh)

English Translation: Tripe

Definition: A comforting stew made from cow’s or lamb’s tripe.

Short Recipe: The tripe is cooked with potatoes, onions, and a savory tomato sauce.

Origin: Nationwide, especially in coastal areas.

Where to Try: Konoba Vinko in Konjevrate (location), near Sibenik, serves yummy lamb tripe and is known for its traditional Dalmatian cuisine. In Split’s hinterland, restaurant Kod Brune (location) is another local favorite spot for the tripe.

Interesting Fact: Although lamb and veal tripe are popular in Croatia, fish tripe, mainly from monkfish, is also served in some fish restaurants.

7. Ston Torta

Stonska Torta, Ston Cake made of dry pasta, Unusual Croatian Food

Croatian Name: Ston torta (stawn tor-ta)

English Translation: A layer cake from Ston

Definition: A unique cake from Ston made with pasta, nuts, and sugar, encased in a thin pastry.

Short Recipe: Macaroni pasta is mixed with ground nuts and spices and baked in a round-shaped pastry resembling a layer cake.

Origin: Ston, Pelješac Peninsula

Where to Try: Restaurant Kapetanova Kuca in Ston (location)

Interesting Fact: How often do you have the chance to taste a layer cake made of dry pasta? Not often, we bet! Don’t miss this unique Croatian dessert while in Croatia!

8. Juha od Kamena (Stone Soup)

Juha od kamena, Sea stone soup, Unusual food in Croatia

Croatian Name: Juha od kamena (yoo-ha od kah-me-na)

English Translation: Stone Soup

Definition: Stone soup is one of the most unusual Croatian dishes, a clear fish soup made with a stone from the sea.

Short Recipe: Find a nice porous sea stone, preferably covered in algae. Cover it in cold water, add onions, carrots, parsley, potatoes, spices, and olive oil, and cook over low heat.

Origin: Coastal Croatia

Where to Try: Restaurant Nostromo in Split (location)

Interesting Fact: Sounds strange, but this soup is surprisingly flavorful and a must-try for any seafood lover.

9. Samastrani Jezik (Dalmatian Pastrami)

Beef pastrami in a sandwich

Croatian Name: Samastrani jezik (shah-mah-strah-nee yeh-zik)

Definition: A cured beef delicacy similar to pastrami, seasoned with salt, coriander seeds, and local herbs.

Short Recipe: Beef is cured and pressed with a heavy stone for at least a week and then served with mayo, mustard, and boiled potatoes.

Origin: Dalmatia

Where to Try: Dalmatian pastrami isn’t as popular today, and it is difficult to find it on menus in Split and Dalmatia.

Interesting Fact: Stamastrani jezik (cured beef tongue) dates back to the 16th century, during the Venetian Republic. At one point, it was a great delicacy and a staple at festive Split lunches. It was particularly popular during Christmas and New Year’s festive lunches, where it was served as an appetizer.

10. Bikla

Bikla, Weird Croatian Drink, mix of goat milk and red wine
Photo credit: Drustvo prijatelja vrgorske starine

Croatian Name: Bikla (beek-la)

English translation: Milk and wine

Definition: An unusual drink made by mixing red wine and goat milk, popular in the Vrgorac region of Croatia.

Short Recipe: Combine three parts of fresh goat milk and seven parts of red wine. Stir the mixture gently until well-mixed. Serve chilled.

Origin: Vrgorac, Croatia

Where to Try: During the annual Bikla Festival in September (location).

Interesting Fact: Although it might sound like an odd combination, bikla has been a traditional drink in Vrgorac for generations. Originally, it was believed to have medicinal properties and was often consumed to boost energy and health, particularly during the grape harvest season.

11. Liska

Croatian Name: Liska (lee-ska)

English Translation: Coot (Waterfowl)

Definition: A dish prepared from the coot, a type of waterfowl found in wetlands, particularly in the Neretva Valley. This unique dish involves slow-cooking the coot meat with various herbs and spices.

Short Recipe: Clean and marinate the coot meat with garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook slowly with onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and red wine until tender and flavorful. Serve with polenta or kale.

Origin: Neretva Valley, Croatia

Where to Try: Liska is today very rare delicacy that’s hard to encounter in the restaurants. However, if you get lucky, you might be able to experience authentic liska at restaurant Vrilo (location) or Teta Olga (location) in the Neretva Valley.

Interesting Fact: Liska has been a part of the culinary tradition in the Neretva Valley for centuries. Once a common game bird, the coot was historically hunted and prepared by local families, especially during the colder months. Generations of people from Neretva Delta region have been nourished on coot.

Croatian Food and Drinks

Croatian seafood, Batelina Pula

Croatia is renowned for its rich and diverse culinary traditions, influenced by Mediterranean, Central European, and Eastern European cuisines.

The country’s coastal regions highlight fresh seafood, while the inland areas emphasize hearty meat dishes and delectable pastries. Traditional Croatian meals often combine locally sourced ingredients with time-honored cooking techniques, resulting in flavorful and memorable dishes.

But what exactly defines Croatian cuisine on the global stage? What is Croatia famous for in terms of food, and what are its national dishes and drinks? Let’s explore these culinary treasures in more detail.

What food is Croatia famous for?

Croatian cuisine is a diverse blend of influences from neighboring countries and regions and its own unique traditions. From hearty meat dishes to fresh seafood, Croatia offers various delicious food and drinks for every taste.

However, the most popular traditional Croatian dishes include black risotto, sauerkraut rolls, stuffed peppers, roasted meat or seafood with veggies under an iron bell, grilled fish, and cevapi.

What is a national dish of Croatia?

Croatia’s national dish is not just one dish but a combination of various dishes representing the country’s different regions.

Some popular dishes that are considered national favorites include ćevapi, sarma (stuffed sauerkraut rolls), peka (meat or seafood cooked under an iron bell), stuffed peppers, and black risotto.

However, Croatian cuisine also has significant regional variations. In eastern Croatia, typical dishes include “fis paprikas” (a spicy stew made of freshwater fish) and “cobanac” (a meat stew), while in northern Croatia, it is a cheese-filled pastry called “strukli” and turkey with mlinci pasta.

In Istria, traditional dishes include a bean soup called “manestra“, “fuzi” and “pljukanci” pasta with various sauces, as well as “posutice” pasta with cod. Typical Dalmatian dishes are “pasticada” (baby beef) with gnocchi, buzara (crustaceans or shellfish in a white wine sauce), and “brudet” (a fish and seafood stew).

What are Croatian national drinks?

Croatia’s national drinks include wine, rakija (fruit spirits and liqueurs), beer, coffee, and unique soft drinks.

The country has a rich wine-making tradition with regions like Istria and Dalmatia producing popular wines such as Plavac Mali and Malvazija.

Rakija, often made from grapes, can also be crafted from other fruits, with notable varieties like slivovitz (plum brandy).

Beer is widely enjoyed, especially brands like Ožujsko and Karlovacko, alongside a growing craft beer scene. Coffee holds cultural significance, often enjoyed in a social setting. Unique soft drinks like Cedevita, Pasareta, and Pipi are also popular.

What meats are popular in Croatia?

Meat plays a significant role in Croatian cuisine, with popular meats including pork, chicken, veal, baby beef, and lamb.

Pork is commonly used in cured meat dishes like prsut (prosciutto), kulen (spicy salami), and “cvarci” (pork cracklings). In Istria, you can also find many restaurants serving whole spit-roasted pork.

Chicken is often found on Croatian menus with popular preparations like grilled chicken and chicken in mushroom or gorgonzola sauce.

Veal is typically used in traditional dishes like slow-cooked veal, veal roast, breaded veal, and veal schnitzel in root vegetable sauce.

Baby beef is often featured in famous specialties like pasticada, and cevapi. Lamb is also prominent, often roasted on a spit for special occasions like Easter or baked under the iron bell called peka.


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