Croatian Fish Soup

Many of you may know that over the past two weeks the Batter Junkie has been forced to compromise between his two favorite past times, Cooking and Traveling. (Well, at least his two favorite PG-rated past times) Rana and I spent the last two weeks in the intolerably wonderful care of Ivana, Ines and Amela not to mention many other extremely kind Croatians. Can I just for a moment plug the country? Ok, well I’m going to anyway. Croatia is a beautiful, amazing, yummying and loving place. The people there also have a strong connection to the sea as Croatia is not only mostly coastline, but consists of an archipelago of over 1000 islands along its coast. Yeah, 1000, and I only got to explore one!

That brings us to our recipe, which comes straight from the ancestral home of Ivana, fish soup. Early one morning Ivana went to the store without us, we may have been sleeping, and got fresh fish, caught that morning on the coast. This soup hinges on the freshness of the fish. It can be made with frozen fish but I imagine it is not as nice.

2 medium sized white fish (I assume that any fish will do but this will drastically change the taste)
5-6 cups of water
1 red onion (chopped)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (but you know the Batter Junkie, he always puts in more garlic!)
1 grated carrott
1 head of parsley
1/2 cup white rice
1/2-1 cup of tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

If you’ve never cooked with whole fish before, do not despair, this is relatively easy. The first thing to check with fish is their eyes. If they are milky white, toss them in the garbage, preferably outside and down wind. If they have a clear eye they are most likely fresh.

In a large pot, place the water (I would start with about 5 cups) the fish and a quartered onion.

Boil for about 5-8 mintues. This will infuse the fish with the onion and cook it nicely. The fish will be slightly firm to the touch. Remove the fish and onions and SAVE THE WATER! The water is your soup base. Discard the onions and clean the cooked meat out of the fish and reserve it for later. Toss the fish heads unless you can come up with a creative way to use them.

In a fry pan, place the garlic and olive oil. Fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes.

Heat up the pot again with the fish broth in it. Add the carrots, parsley and fried garlic. Toss in the white rice and bring the whole thing to a low boil and let it sit for about 20 minutes. This will cook the rice. About 5 mintues from the end of the boil, add in the fish again and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with bread and a salad if you really want to complete the meal.

Thank you Ivana for this fantastic, traditional, fresh meal! It was such a joy seeing you, Amela, Toni and friends in Zagreb! We miss you already.

Enjoy junkies!

Written in Joe Bar, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Labels: Croatian, fish, soup, main

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