Today, we have a special treat for all of you Mediterranean food lovers out there. In this post, we’ll share a traditional Croatian brudet recipe and teach you everything there is to know about this delicious Mediterranean fish stew. But let’s start from the beginning…
What is Brudet?
Brudet is a hearty fish stew from the Dalmatia region of Croatia, similar to Greek Bourdeto and Italian Brodetto. The recipes for all three are similar but there’s something unique about each of them. The Croatian version of the recipe is a one-pot dish that consists of marinating some fish and throwing all of the other ingredients in the stew at the right time. Traditionally, the dish is made of a mixture of fishes, most commonly eel, coral trout, scorpionfish, or rockling (but any white fish would do) alongside some shrimps, scamps, and mussels.
Are you a fan of Croatian cuisine? Then you should definitely check out our pasticada recipe.
Brudet or Brodetto draws its origins from Venice and it’s likely that this stew appeared somewhere between the 14th or early 16th century. The stew was likely invented by fisherman who would often take the fish that were of no commercial value or damaged by the fishing net and make a stew out of the leftovers. And this dish was long consumed only by fishermen because it was basically prepared of leftovers but things started changing when Bartolomeo Scappi, one of the most famous chefs in the 16th century declared that “no one can make a better fish stew than the fisherman of Venice”.
Throughout the years, the dish started gaining recognition and spreading across all parts of the Adriatic. That’s why today, brudet or brodetto is famous in coastal towns from Northern Italy to Greece. This brings us to our next point…
Brudet In Different Countries
Brudet is available in all countries along the Adriatic Coast except for maybe Albania. You can find brudet in Croatia, Italy, Greece, and Montenegro. The dish is also quite popular in some other Slavic countries where Croatian people live but the best places to try Brudet are the coastal town because the most important thing about making this stew is the fish to be as fresh as possible.
In all of these countries, the brudet recipe is slightly different but the brudet recipe is also slightly different in different parts of Croatia. In every town in Dalmatia (where Brudet is most popular), you’ll find a slightly different brudet and in Italy, almost every town has its own variation (i.e. brodetto di Pescara, brodetto di Ancona, etc.).
In Croatia, there are several different types of brudet and we’ll do our best to summarize the most popular ones. For starters, we have the local favorite, Neretva Brudet (also known as Skradisnki brudet). This type of brudet consists of river or sea fish like an eel, sea bass, or shoe fish, and shrimps, fennel, and in some parts of Croatia, even frog meat. Some other popular variations include brudet od liganja (squid brudet) and brudet od morskog psa (shark brudet). I’ve also seen some people preparing brudet with fish fillets but this seemed very unauthentic and honestly not as tasty.
What kind of fish we can use?
You can use various types of fish. Some common choices include eel, scallop, or scorpionfish, but you can also make brudet out of coral trout, rockling, shrimps, squids, shark, etc. Many local chefs in Croatia also like to add some crab meat or crab shell to enhance the flavor. Some chefs experiment more with local vegetables and spices while others even throw in some frog meat (unlike what you might think, this version is actually very tasty too).
Brudet is usually prepared in large amounts in traditional pans with a heavy bottom. Traditionally, the stew is served while still hot in deep bowls alongside some polenta (in a separate plate) or homemade white bread and a glass (or two) of fine Croatian white wine like Postup or Rizvanac Bjeli.
Add some wine while cooking the fish, it’s a game-changer.
We encourage you to use only fresh tomatoes when making brudet but if it’s not tomato season, you can use canned tomatoes or tomato puree but the taste won’t be the same.
Traditionally, brudet is prepared on a stone-lined fireplace in a clay pot. Today, this is a rarity but if you have all of the necessary equipment, we strongly recommend you to try preparing brudet this way.
The secret of the perfect brudet is not to mix the stew but occasionally shake it.
When cooking the fish, only cook it until halfway done before adding it to the stew.
You might be tempted to add more pieces of fish than what’s mentioned in the recipe but don’t because this can make your brudet too dry.
A Few Things You Might Need For This Recipe
- 1.5 kg (3 lbs) Fish (traditionally, scorpionfish, eel, perch, rockfish, or a mix of all)
- 1/2 cup Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Garlic Cloves, sliced
- 3 Onions, chopped
- 2 Medium Tomato, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 500 ml Water
- ½ lb Mussels
- ½ lb Shrimps/Scampi
- 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Leeks, sliced
- 1 Dill, sliced
- 2 Teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 2 Stalks Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Salt & Pepper (according to your preference)
- ½ Lemon, juiced
Marinade the fish
1. Clean the fish and cut it into pieces.
2. Add the parsley, ¼ cup of olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, and some lemon juice in a food processor and mix it. You should get a thick puree.
3. Add the fish pieces to the puree and keep it in the fridge for 45-60 minutes. Here, you can take a break or proceed to make the bread/polenta until the fish stays in the fridge.
Prepare the sauce
4. Add some oil to your pan, and turn on the heat.
5. After 2-3 minutes, add some onion, the remaining garlic cloves, tomatoes, dried chili peppers, and the dill. Fry it without burning.
6. When the onion starts getting a golden color, add the leek, bay leaves, and rosemary, and stir for 2 more minutes.
7. Mix everything well and then add the water and vinegar.
Prepare the fish
8. Add the fish to the stew and let it cook for around 30 minutes. Make sure the fish is completely submerged.
9. Add some salt and black pepper for taste (if necessary, even some more vinegar or wine).
10. Shake your pot from time to time but don’t stir it because you may make the fish crumble.
11. After that, add the mussels and shrimps and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
12. In the end, the stew shouldn’t be very dense but it shouldn’t be very liquid either. If by any chance, there's some oil on the top, remove it with a spoon before serving.
13. Serve it alongside some polenta/homemade white bread and some white wine and enjoy your meal.
Serving Size:1 Bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 618Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0.32mgSodium: 1318mgCarbohydrates: 28gNet Carbohydrates: 28gFiber: 9gSugar: 8gSugar Alcohols: 5gProtein: 42g
Did you ever try brudet? How did you like our Croatian brudet recipe? If you tried to make our recipe, don’t forget to leave us a rating and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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