Fusing tradition and modernity with the help of oily fish flavours

Indispensible oily fish are right at the very top of the culinary, traditional and nutritional pyramid. The mere mention of oily fish will whet true food lovers’ appetite instantaneously, whereas culinary adventurers will be drawn into trying out new recipes. The wide array of oily fish has left its mark on Mediterranean cuisine and has become an integral part of identity. Fresh oily fish have a distinct and clear sea flavour to them and the abundance of ways how to prepare them rightfully makes these fish synonymous with culinary hedonism.

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Seasonal ingredients peak: December - February

How to tell the difference at fish markets

Even though they differ significantly in size, all oily fish can easily be recognised by their blue ridge. Sometimes it’s a lighter shade and sometimes it’s a darker shade, but you’ll always clearly recognise the blue colour. Oily fish can be divided into two main groups. Small oily fish include: sardines, Atlantic horse mackerel, anchovies, chub mackarel, Atlantic mackarel. Large oily fish refer to: tuna, Atlantic bonito, greater amberjack, common dolphinfish, leerfish, little tunny and bullet mackarel. Considering how varied their size is, you can unleash your culinary creativity when preparing oily fish. The smaller fish are used to prepare standard local dishes such as riba na gradele (traditional way of preparing grilled fish) and salted anchovies. The larger fish can be sliced into fillets and that’s when your culinary genius steps in.

Since the dawn of time the nutritional value, meat quality and significance of oily fish as food have been an essential part of dining etiquette. Oily fish has always been conserved, salted and stored as highly valuable and healthy food. The basic contrast between oily and white fish is how and where they contain fat. The oily fish oil content is 5-10 per cent higher. This is precisely why oily fish contain more calories and precious Omega-3 fatty acids. When planning your weekly menu, it’s recommended to have oily fish at least two times per week. 

 Raw oily fish delicacies

Preserving flavours, the ingredient’s freshness and accentuating genuine Mediterranean flavours is what makes preparing oily fish authentic. Unique ingredients such as citrus fruits, most commonly lemon, but orange will do just fine, local olive oil, rosemary, caper or fennel, are used to marinate and prepare oily fish by grilling or baking it in an oven.

Tomatoes are used in sauces containing oily fish because they stimulate true umami during eating. Small oily fish will break the dullness of even the simplest of salads, particularly those salads containing baby vegetables such as chard or red beets, bits of sheep milk cheese and salted anchovies. Such a salad may be served as a separate meal.

Most oily fish make a great steak only requiring just a quick cooking on both sides so it’ll stay tender and juicy on the inside. True food lovers should definitely take our advice and try raw tuna or have a go at preparing tuna tartare. These delicacies form an integral part of professional chef exams.

You can enjoy superb oily fish specialties at Zadar’s Kornat Restaurant where we highly recommend you try   the tuna steak with zinfandel and boiled vegetable sauce. At Split’s Ma:Toni Tavern you can relish a starter named mazalica. This actually denotes a delicious prawn and salmon pate, a small salad and anchovies with pickled red onions. On the other hand, Zagreb’s Apetit City Restaurant & Bar gives you an opportunity to see first-hand how their team of experts led by chef Teo Ivanišević makes an Adriatic tuna tartare with avocado, chilli, coriander and ginger.