Tooting Family Kitchen

Tooting Family Kitchen

Fun Family Cooking

37. Croatia: Cooking a Croatian Seafood Feast

Tooting Family Kitchen hit Week 37 and it gives me great pleasure to return to the Balkans for the first time since our Albanian Feast of Week 16 and cook up a seafood extravaganza inspired by the beautiful Croatian coastline.


My memories of the Croatian coastline are from 1988 during a 7 week family camping holiday around Europe on what was an incredible, albeit hard going road trip. As a family of 4 we travelled 6000 miles through and around France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Yugoslavia (through what is now Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo) and finally into Greece…and back again! We rarely took the motorways but stuck to the picturesque coastal roads and although the accommodation was not 5* (a heavy canvas tent which if painted green would not have looked out of place in a military training exercise) and the transport was not luxurious (I have mixed emotions if I see a 1980s Volvo 740), the scenery was spectacular and we always ate very well.


The Croatian coastline was a particular highlight of this trip and I remember being totally awe struck by the stunning turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, the endless idyllic islands (all 1200 of them), the pristine beaches and those beautiful old fishing ports. Stunning towns such Trogir, Omis and Brela provided the perfect backdrop for the amazing seafood we would eat, whilst sat next to the gently rocking boats from which they came. The prices were always reasonable and the service was always fantastic. I remember seeing the bombing of Dubrovnic on the news a couple of years later and it barely seemed real that this was the same place we had been walking around. We could still picture the people we had met and could only try and imagine with great sadness how much their lives had changed and the fear they must have been feeling, like so many across the region at that time.


Croatia is one of the smallest countries in the world both in terms of geographical area and by the size of its population which is approx. 4 million. It is also the location of the world’s smallest town, Hum in Istria, with a population of about 20, but these statistics in no way hold them back from competing on the world stage…as we found out in 2018 World Cup Semi Final! Despite being the 127th biggest country in the world their men are the 7th tallest, although height was clearly not the reason for Luka Modrić winning the Ballon d’Or in 2018 coming in at just 5ft 8! In the 2016 Rio Olympics Croatia won the biggest amount of gold medals (per capita) and it is home to the two top ace servers in tennis history in Ivo Karlović and Goran Ivanišević. After all this sport though its important to unwind and being home to over 40,000 vinyards covering nearly 21000 hectares of land Croatia is ranked 4th in the world for alcohol consumption…all that fresh seafood needs to be washed down with something! And for those with a sweet tooth – a strudel nearly 1.5km long (clearly the longest in the world) was baked in the town of Jaškovo!


It’s not all about the seafood though and like many countries Croatian food is very regional. Our friend Ivana grew up in the town of Varaždin in the northern Croatian region of Hrvatsko zagorje. She told us about a completely different cuisine to that which I had had experienced and one which is characterized by the earlier Slavic and the more recent contacts with Hungarian and Turkish cuisine, than the more Mediterranean style of the Adriatic coast. Ivana spoke of delicious, hearty goulash often with wild boar or venison and a traditional New Year’s meal of Sarma, a type of stuffed cabbage role similar to the Holubtsi we cooked for our Ukrainian dinner. The cuisine and scenery sounded equally as stunning in their own right and next time we visit Croatia we will certainly being making the trip to the north!

Tooting Family Kitchen cook Croatian Seafood Stew (Brudet) with Parmesan Polenta, and Squid Ink Risotto (Crni rižot).

Checking out the squid

Getting up close to the lobster

Preparing the squid

Ready to cook

20 mins in the freezer before cooking

Preparing the cooked lobster

Brudet (Croatian fish stew)

What’s in it...

1 lobster

1kg clams

500g of tiger prawns

500g of squid, cleaned and chopped

500g cod loin, chopped into bite size pieces

1 litre of fish stock

200ml of white wine

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 large chopped onion

500g cherry tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp tomato paste

Handful of chopped parsley

What to do with it...
  1. Prep the seafood. Clean and chop the squid. Clean the clams and discard any that are broken.
  2. Cook the lobster if live. Always freeze for 30 min before which should put the lobster to sleep before cooking. Plunge into boiling water for approx. 4 mins per 500g and remove. Allow to cool slightly and chop in half and crack the claws.
  3. Heat the oil in a very large pan or Dutch oven and gently fry the onions until translucent and then add the garlic for a minute.
  4. Add the sugar to the chopped tomatoes and then chuck in the pan and gently fry for 10 mins until they have broken down before stirring in the tomato paste.
  5. Pour in the white wine and cook for a few minutes allowing to reduce and then pour in the fish stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. At this stage if you prefer a smoother texture use a stick blender for a couple of minutes before you start to add the fish, taste the base and season if required.
  7. Add the cod and after 5 mins add the prawns and the squid. Cook for 2 mins and then add the clams and the cooked lobster – put the lid and cook for 3 mins until the clams have all opened and the seafood is cooked. Discard any clams that are not opened
  8. Garnish with lemon and chopped parsley and serve alongside polenta with parmesan.

Squid ink risotto

What’s in it...

2 cups of risotto rice

4 shallots, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, minced

5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

600g squid, cleaned and trimmed (keeping the ink sacks)

½ glass of white wine

1 litre of fish stock

1 sachet of squid ink or use ink sacks from squid

Salt and pepper

What to do with it...
  1. Heat the oil and pan and gently fry the chopped shallots for a few minutes until translucent and then add the garlic for a further minutes.
  2. Heat a pan of hot water and boil the squid for 4 minute or until tender and cooked. Drain and finely chop keep tentacles to garnish the dish.
  3. Add the rice to the pan and coat in the oil, onions and garlic and gently fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the white wine and let it bubble away and reduce for a couple of minutes and then stir in the tomatoes paste and squid ink.
  5. Slowly start pouring in the fish stock and constantly stirring until the risotto is of the right consistency – creamy but not stodgy and the rice is al dente (this should take about 20 minutes).
  6. 5 minutes before the end of cooking stir in the chopped squid.
  7. Check for seasoning and garnish with parsley and squid tentacles.

Our Croatian seafood feast

Time to tuck in

Beautiful clams

Getting messy

Mopping up!

Croatia that was awesome!

Thank you Croatia, that was epic! Can’t wait to explore more of your cuisine.

Next week we are excited to cook up some Korean food … please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE (scroll to bottom) & SHARE and if you have any International Food ideas or recipes from around the world you wish to share please do drop us a line 👍


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See you next week!
Tooting Family Kitchen


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