Centuries of tradition, hard-working grandmothers, fertile soil, a conducive climate and interesting historical influences ranging from Napoleon’s France, Austria-Hungary and Italy have all left their marks on small Istrian settlements and villages by making their cuisine unique and authentic. Traditional cuisine that has been preserved to this very day serves as a symbol of Istria’s gastronomical culture. It’s traditional Istrian pasta that has an important place alongside numerous specialties and dishes. In addition to fuži, you have pljukanci.
Fuži used to be prepared as poor man’s food, while today they’re prepared to make lunch on a daily basis, as well as for different special occasions. Come Easter and you can try lamb goulash with fuži. Traditionally, fuži are prepared with different sauces, the so called 'šug', which are made from seafood or red meat such as beef goulash, boškarin goulash and they go great with octopus goulash, too. There are countless vegetarian versions prepared with fuži. Depending on the season, you have fuži with truffle sauce or fuži with asparagus, fuži with penny buns, while fuži and chicken žgvacet are yet another one of Istria’s specialties. So let’s take a trip down fuži lane.Image author: PRIZMA DESIGN STUDIO
The village of Buščina near the border with Slovenia is where you’ll find the eponymous family tavern Buščina where they do a phenomenal job at preparing the most famous Istrian specialties. This foodies’ paradise is also where they make their excellent, award-winning olive oil. Michelin has recognised their consistency when it comes to preparing exclusively local ingredients and recipes, but they’ve also received other awards and recognitions. Tavern Buščina is the place-to-go if you’re eager to try genuine autochthonous Istrian cuisine. Istrian cuisine wouldn’t be the same without fuži. The tavern owner and head chef Fabiana Mijanović told us more about fuži while we tasted her fuži with black truffles that are in season just about now.
- My mother taught me how to prepare fuži and I’ve been making them since I was a small child. Fuži form an indispensible part of our cuisine, we prepare them almost every day and we serve them with boškarin goulash, truffles, shrimp asparagus and other sauces, too. Unlike other types of pasta, fuži dough is prepared using smaller quantities of water and eggs. We use four eggs per kilogramme of flour. Once we knead the dough, it doesn’t need to stand too much. It should be shaped while it’s still fresh. You can use your hands or a machine to stretch the dough so that it’s one millimetre thick. When you’re done rolling the dough, it’s cut into rhomboidal pieces which are then rolled on a stick so as to join the opposite tips. If the dough is freshly prepared, it doesn’t take much to cook it. After the water starts simmering, five to six minutes is more than enough. To prepare fuži with truffles I melt the butter in a separate bowl. Before that I prepare the sauce using sour cream, Parmesan cheese and an egg yolk. When the butter is melted, I add the sauce, you can already grate some truffles, I add the cooked fuži and a bit of starch water remaining from we cooked the pasta. I cook it all together for two to three minutes to blend all the ingredients. When serving the dish, I grate some black truffles on top of the fuži and sprinkle them with a few drops of olive oil.
Tavern Veli Jože in Rovinj boasts a view of the sea and is situated just a few metres away from it. Located in the centre of one of the most beautiful coastal cities, this tavern will particularly catch your attention with its cheerful design and a homey feel typical of a true tavern. In addition to fish, mollusc and crustacean specialties, guest can relish Istria’s most famous pasta - fuži. Ivan Šverko, who owns Veli Jože, told us about fuži and šug.
- When it comes to traditional Istrian pasta, we prepare fuži, gnocchi and pljukanci. They’re served with Istrian specialties such as beef goulash, boškarin goulash, truffle sauce and home-reared rooster or hen goulash. When preparing beef or boškarin goulash, we use onion as a base. We also add some root vegetables, then tomatoes and we add the diced meat followed by water. First we sauté all the ingredients. Compared to other types of beef, boškarin takes more time to cook. That’s why preparing boškarin goulash takes two hours and more. When the goulash is almost done, we add some wine. Fuži are cooked separately and the best way to know they’re done it to try them. Even though some guests prefer their pasta to be tender, fuži always have to be served al dente. Under no circumstances are they to be overcooked.Image author: PRIZMA DESIGN STUDIO
Family Restaurant & Pansion Učka is located at the foot of mountain Učka, right next to Opatija. It’s widely known for their hunting dishes based exclusively on local recipes. Aside from first-class bear, deer, boškarin or Cres boar goulash, they also prepare interesting specialties such as bear prosciutto, boškarin carpaccio, boar lard or bear cracklings. When serving hunters’ and other interesting sauces, they serve them with traditional Istrian pasta fuži or pljukanci they make themselves. Owners Zoran Kotević and Rajna Aničić shared with us how they go about making fuži at restaurant Učka.
- We serve fuži with traditional seasonal sauces, 'šug'. Right now summer penny buns and black truffles are in season. When making fuži, we stick to the traditional Istrian methopassed on to us from our grandmothers. We use homemade plain flour, eggs, a bit of water and olive oil to make the dough. It’s vital to cover the dough with foil so as to keep it moist during preparation. Fuži are hand-rolled around a stick. What sets them apart is that they’re hollow with these crevices later filled with sauce.
When in Istria, enjoy good wine as Istrians do. Our hosts were unanimous to recommend Istrian Malvasia with these dishes. Cheers!