Over the past few weeks the world has changed drastically and we’ve become strictly prohibited in terms of travelling – even to the local shops let alone beyond our own borders. So of course many of us have had to cancel much-anticipated holidays, mini breaks and getaways and it looks like it’s going to continue that way for some time to come. All we can do is sit tight, stay positive and get on with the job of staying home.
But staying home doesn’t mean giving up on your passion for travel, because there’s a very good way you can keep yourself (and the kids if you have them) occupied, and live out your holiday dreams to some degree. Recreating traditional dishes from countries around the world is fun, spirit-lifting and, most importantly, delicious!
So today while you aren’t allowed to jet off to beautiful Croatia, you can learn how to make one of the country’s most famous dishes to tide you over until you can get on that plane…
Get Creative With Croatia’s Cuisine
The cuisine of Croatia has been influenced by multiple cultures over the centuries so it’s a wonderful melding of Asian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Ottoman flavours, using a range of traditional Balkan ingredients. As with most countries, regional specialties differ from place to place, but Croatia’s vast coastlines mean that there’s a heavy focus on seafood. Other commonly used ingredients include plenty of meat varieties (lamb, beef, pork) and lots of seasonal vegetables.
The Famous Black Risotto
But you’ve not experienced the full gamut of Croatian cuisine until you’ve tried the famous Black Risotto. And you certainly won’t have any trouble finding it when you’re actually there, as some version of it can be found on virtually every menu in the country. While it may not be the most appealing looking of any dish you’ve ever tried, it’s worth putting aside your misgivings and putting your trust in history!
The dish is common all over the Mediterranean and it’s thought that the Venetians brought their version to Croatia around the fourteenth century. It is sometimes eaten as an appetizer and sometimes as the main and, today, every family has their own variation on the theme – with a healthy rivalry of ‘secret ingredients’ alive and well!
The fundamental difference (apart from the colour) between this and regular risotto is the cooking of fresh cuttlefish, calamari, onions, garlic and wine as a base before the rice is added.
Make Like a Croatian and Cook it at Home!
As the name gives away, the finished dish is black, and it gets its colour from a rather unusual source: the ink from a cuttlefish. But don’t be put off by imagining that the ink might add a nasty flavour, because only a small amount is used and it really doesn’t affect the taste.
Ready? Then let’s get down to business.
Cuttlefish or squid
Red or white wine
Salt and pepper
- In a frying pan, sauté your garlic and onion until transparent, then add the diced up cuttlefish and season well.
- Once the liquid from the cuttlefish disappears, add some tomato puree and the wine.
- Cook until the liquid has almost reduced, before adding the fish stock (slowly), squid ink and more seasoning.
- Add the rice and cook for around 15 minutes, making sure to stir regularly. Add more stock if it becomes too thick – the results should be lovely and creamy.
- Serve immediately with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese and take a bow!
- You can buy squid ink in a packet or jar but, as always, fresh is best as the flavour is truly unique.
- If you’re using fresh cuttlefish ink, it should be diluted and added very sparingly.
- Your fish stock should be cold and you need to add it slowly.
- If you can track down some Croatian Prošek (a dessert wine) your dish will taste even more authentic.
This is a wonderfully simple, flavoursome dish and you don’t have to be a master chef to nail it every time. The secret is in the cuttlefish and wine base, and ensuring you’re not too heavy-handed with the ink. Treat yourself to this wonderful cuisine at home and if you close your eyes as you’re doing the dishes you might just be able to convince yourself it was the real thing…
How to Get There
When life goes back to normal and you’re inspired to head to Croatia and see how the local version of Black Risotto stacks up to yours, it’s simple to get there. There are numerous direct flights to Dubrovnik Airport and you’ll have no issues getting one to suit your needs.
Once you land, the best way to get directly to your accommodation is on a pre-booked transfer with Shuttle Direct. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to wherever you need to be in the fastest possible time. Start planning your holiday now and the time in lockdown will go all the faster!
UK to DBV Flight Time: 2 hours 36 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
Book with Shuttle Direct and rest assured you’re travelling with the best in the business. We’ve got an extensive range of shared and private transfer services, so getting to where you need to go is easy. Wherever you’re going and whatever your budget, we’ve got a service to suit.
Make a quick and easy online booking before you leave home so that when you land a friendly driver will be there to meet you and get your holiday off to a stress-free start.