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
Frying the Onions
Tomatoes, Onions, Parsley and Garlic
- 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
- 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.
- Once the onions are transparent, add the sliced up garlic. Garlic may also be added in the final stages of the onion frying process.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Pogaša.
Flavorful, Sun-Ripened Tomatoes
Once the Sauce is Finished
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