Once a supper for the poor, smelts are now delicacy that is in high demand

Every expert of the fish menu will recommend them. The small fish are sweetest when they are prepared as soon as they are taken from the sea, and most commonly they are fried.

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It would be pity to be in Croatia and not to try the delicious small fish. Smelts! For centuries it was the feeder of the coastal and island populations, fishermen and farmers. Its winter role was counterbalance to the summer role of sardines. Suppers were light, fast, with a little wild cabbage, and several pieces of fried small fish! It was once the supper of the poor, and today, it is a demanded, however, not much known delicacy to the privileged experts of the fish menu.

Sardines and smelts, also known as gavuns, are very delicious fish and excellent source of high-value proteins and Omega 3 fat acids, and they are very cheap compared to white fish and thus affordable to everyone. They are most delicious when prepared as soon as they are caught from the sea, and most commonly they are fried in oil. They have low calories, 100 g contains about 70 kcal, while 200 g is more than enough for a person if they are served with salad as a side dish. They are eaten with the bones, which is additional nutritional trump card – an especially high share of calcium. If you stay in Dalmatia, you can find smelts at booths where they are sold as healthy fast food, an available and affordable meal of small blue fish. Unlike most fast foodstuffs that are offered in the domestic tourist market, this is a high quality and healthy meal that links the local culinary tradition with the modern tourist offer.

A number of taverns and restaurants in Croatia have smelts in their offer. At the very centre of Zagreb, a fish restaurant, Ribice i tri točkice, is well known. Both domestic and foreign guests say they gladly order smelts. The fish is prepared quickly and is delicious.

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"Depending how hungry someone is, they are mainly ordered as starter, but some order them as the main course" – people from the restaurant say. If you happen to go to the National Park Krka, do not miss to visit Skradin nearby. There, smelts are called čokalice, and those are gavuns from Lake Prokljane.

"Tourists like the national food very much, especially our fish. They often order čokalice and they like them a lot – people at Skradin’s Zlatne Školjke Restaurant say.

Photo author: Duško Jaramaz/PIXSELL

Therefore, if you come to Croatia, be sure to try these delicious beauties....