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Croatian Cooking Grilled fish (Riba sa Žara)
This has got to be the most eaten food at our house here in Privlaka. It’s easy (no, really it is), healthy, and tasty. It has the least amount of ingredients of any food that we cook and brings the biggest smiles from all that eat it.
Tips From Our Kitchen To Yours
- Salt and oil. These are the two critical ingredients in making sure your grilled fish is tasty! In our Croatian village, nothing else is used when grilling fish. And it’s got to be sea salt and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). We only eat fish on the day it has been caught, and how can you improve the flavor of a freshly caught fish?
- Select a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Try to buy local to where you are. Support your local farmers, and then you also know it’s fresh.
- Buy and use only the best sea salt. We’re fortunate to live next door to Nin, which is known for excellent sea salt, but you can get lots in your local supermarket.
Choose Your Fish
You want to make sure each fish is no larger than plate size and will hold well while being grilled. In Croatia, we use sardines or brancin, and while living in Australia, we often used silver bream or snapper. If you’re unsure of what fish to use, I suggest you ask your fishmonger for some suggestions.
Scale And Gut Your Fish
Leave the head on, and if you’ve had your fishmonger clean it for you, then be sure to just double check they scaled the entire fish. Especially those sections around the head and tail. Nobody wants to be spitting out fish scales, during lunch!
Salt Your Fish
Be sure to salt each fish individually, inside and out.
Select your favorite EVOO, and lather your fishies in the oil. Do not be shy, or else your fish will stick to the grill.
Heat Up The Grill
We use a metal grill, as shown in the photo below. Be sure to allow your grill to heat up over the burning wood. You want the grill to be super hot.
Once the wood on your open grill has burned down to embers, lay down the fish. As they grill, brush over small amounts of the EVOO onto the fish.
When is the fish ready?
You only need to flip the fish one time. If you turn the fish over too early, the fish will stick. Flip them over too late, and the fish will burn! As a rough guide, you want to cook the fish till it’s a golden brown. As for how many minutes this is, is very hard to say. It depends on the size of the fish & the intensity of embers. The fish below took about 7-10 minutes to be cooked. Honestly, learning this part takes a few attempts until you get it 100% right.
Once the fish is done, drizzle with some fresh EVOO, and you’re ready to eat. The tastiest part is the fish cheeks, be sure to try those…
What are your tips and tricks for grilling fish? Let us know what you think in the comments section below; we’d love to learn from you.Share