Basic Main Dish Recipe for Croatia Starter Base

Southern European Cuisine

What are we talking about here? Resembling "warm salsa, it's the starter base for more than half the main dishes served in Dalmatian cuisine.

The beginning of most Croatian - Dalmatian main dishes is based on a simple onion and tomato mixture that adds color, flavor and definition to the foods here.

That base can complement fish, beef, chicken and pork. It's the starter base for recipes like Brudet (the Mediterranean version of builiabase), Polenta (corn meal) and other things.

It isn't hard but should be cooked enough for the vegetables to release their flavor. In the end, it becomes a homogeneous conglomeration, but since the onions are the hardest and take the most time to cook, they are fried lightly in the oil first.

Most Dalmatian Recipes Start Like This

Cast your vote for Dalmatian Salsa Base

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves six people 1/2 cup of salsa

Frying the Onions

Tomatoes, Onions, Parsley and Garlic

Fresh and slightly mushy tomatoes are good to use in making Dalmatian Salsa Base.
Fresh and slightly mushy tomatoes are good to use in making Dalmatian Salsa Base. | Source
Onions may be chopped in cubes or sliced in crescent shapes then fried in oil in a skillet to let the onions soften to transparency.
Onions may be chopped in cubes or sliced in crescent shapes then fried in oil in a skillet to let the onions soften to transparency. | Source
minced parsley can be combined on the chopping board with slices of garlic to get even tinier minced pieces.  Chop, chop!  The leaves are more aromatic than the stems.
minced parsley can be combined on the chopping board with slices of garlic to get even tinier minced pieces. Chop, chop! The leaves are more aromatic than the stems. | Source
If the garlic is minced well and cooked to softness, it won't give bad breath.
If the garlic is minced well and cooked to softness, it won't give bad breath. | Source

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh tomatoes, soft = OK
  • 1 lb. onions, small = better, all are welcome
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced up into tiny rings
  • 1 bunch parsley, well rinsed and minced (optional)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. plain water, add to the pot if cooking too fast

Instructions

  1. The onions add a lot of flavor, and are in fact the most important part of this dish. That is why I added a separate video for frying the onions. The only part that I would have added was to add a half a (small) glass of water - like 2 or 3 oz., to the already sizzling onion mixture. It prevents burning, shocks the onions a bit and helps them get to the clear and transparent stage a little faster. Less oil is better - enough so they don't stick but not too much to add calories and heaviness to your dish.
  2. Once the onions are transparent, add the sliced up garlic. Garlic may also be added in the final stages of the onion frying process.
  3. Next comes the tomatoes, sliced thinly. Some people prefer to chop their tomatoes in cubes but I think the tomato slices, paper thin more or less, look better and tend to dissolve faster. Cook's choice!
  4. It's important to stay next to the skillet, now. A moment of distraction can lead to a stuck on mess that will ruin the flavor. If this happens, better to start over again, because the taste of burnt onion and tomato gives an acidy, vinegary taste that will leave everyone sorry that they ate.
  5. When it become all one homogeneous combination, time to add the chicken breasts or fish for Brudet. This is the base for many, many Croatian (and probably Italian) dishes. In the case of brudet, once the veggies are soft and the color / flavor essences have been released, it's now safe to add water and continue cooking onwards according to whatever the recipe calls for.
  6. For Example: Add water, wine and fish to make the Croatian Brudet - Bouilliabase the the islands are famous for. Use the Dalmatian Starter Base with water to cook corn polenta, or spoon the base with cleaned salted sardines between two layers of bread dough to bake the fisherman's bread known as PogaĊĦa.

Do You Like Italian / Mediterranean Food

Would you be willing to try this easy salsa starter base for meat, fish and veggie dishes?

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Comments 5 comments

chrissieklinger profile image

chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Cute homemade video! This is definitely something I could see myself making.


yougotme profile image

yougotme 4 years ago from Manila

A very well presented hub! And great recipe! Thanks EUROCAFEAULAIT!


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Thanks Chrissie! I had trouble with the video - ended up making three of them in the various stages of cooking - so I just put in the last segment. I make this sauce at least a couple of times a week. Thanks for the nice comment!


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Hi Yougotme! What a fun name :) I tried to present it well because as the expression goes, the devil is in the details. It's easy and inexpensive to make. You can add wine to it if you wish - it's the start of many good recipes. Have fun and you are More than welcome!!!


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 4 years ago from Wales

It's lovely to have a few good starter recipes that can be adapted to many dishes. Thanks so much for this - I think I will be using it this coming week.

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