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Popular around the Dalmatian coast, brudet is a type of Croatian fish soup similar to bouillabaisse. Generally including three or more different kinds of fish, brudet may even use eels or mussels. The soup is never stirred while cooking, in order to prevent the fish flesh from breaking up.
Brudet usually includes both onions and garlic, as well as tomato puree. Cherry tomatoes or full-sized tomatoes may also be added. Parsley, bay leaves, lemon juice, and salt and pepper are usually added for seasonings. White wine, or wine vinegar, fish stock, and extra virgin olive oil provide the liquid elements of this dish.
Depending on the recipe, the fish may or may not be marinated before being added to the stew. The marinade may include olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. Usually, the fish is marinaded for a few hours.
Fresh fish may also be used to create the fish stock. If making fish stock, vegetables are first cooked in butter, then water and the bones and heads of the fish are added to the pot and allowed to simmer. Once simmered, the liquid is strained and the fish parts and vegetables are discarded. White wine is often added to the stock after it is complete.
To cook brudet, the garlic and onion are first sautéed in olive oil. The tomatoes are added, then the white wine or vinegar. Fish and seasoning are included right before the fish stock is added. The fish is poached for about 30 minutes, and then the liquid is reduced by simmering. Stirring brudet is strictly forbidden once the fish is added, so to mix the ingredients during cooking, the pot is gently shaken.
If mussels or cherry tomatoes are included in the recipe, then they are left out until the end of the cooking process. These two ingredients cook much more quickly than the others, and so are only allowed to cook for a few minutes to avoid overcooking. Seasoning may also be added again at the end of the cooking process.
Brudet is usually paired with a starchy side, such as mashed potatoes or polenta. It may also be served with garlic bread. The starch can be served on the side, but often it is placed in a bowl, and the brudet is placed on top of it. First, the soup is poured over the potatoes or polenta and then the fish is carefully placed on top. The finished soup is normally garnished with parsley.