Time to continue with our 101 tastes of Croatia. Since it was a long wait, I’m presenting something utterly delicious, sexy and uplifting: škampi (eng – langoustines, please don’t mix them up and call them prawns). This is THE ingredient if you want to try the Croatian taste of life.
Because it’s quite expensive (from 20-40 euro/kilo) it sort of became the holy grail in our kitchens and is made for special occasions, usually in summer when you want to get super high on that livin’ the Croatian summer feeling. Škampi has a typical (just narrower) body shape of a lobster, is pale orange (looks like a mixture of pink and orange, to be honest) with has a length of anywhere between 18-25 cm (the bigger, the better, the more expensive).
The meat resides in the tail, although if you’re a proper foodie, you’ll suck the meat resembeling mixture from the claws and the body. The most common way we eat them is in buzara style, which means they’re cooked with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and white wine. The recipe may vary with some adding tomato and onion, but that’s about it. They can also be barbecued or grilled, or mixed with pasta, but once you try buzara style, you never go back.
There’s even a lyric in one of our songs saying: ”Volim njenu guzaru ko škampe na buzaru” which, roughly translated, means ”I like her a** like I like škampi a la buzara.
The proper way to eat buzara is to prepare a massive amount of it in a giant pot, put it in the middle of the table with some home made bread, and just dig in.
You’ll know you’re doing it right if there’s this magnificent sauce dripping down your chin and hands, all the way down to your elbows, birds are chirping, and angels are singing, and you are slurping the meat and sauce out of the body cavity inappropriately loudly and two hours have passed in a blink of an eye. You’re always checking how much the others are having and judge them for taking another piece as it should belong to you. You’re tearing the piece of warm bread like a savage and dipping it into the most magnificent sauce you ever had (we call it toć and the process is toćanje).
Which leads me to this conclusion: You can’t have škampi na buzaru in a rush. If you do, know that you’re not worthy of them. It’s a ritual for which you to sacrifice time and money, but it’s worth it.
Let’s head to the recipe department now, but as always, there’s a little story behind it all!
Last Wednesday on my walk through the market, I had the luck to stumble across a fresh shipment of sea produce (usually they come on Tuesdays and Fridays). When a guy pushing the heavy trolley filled with boxes of fresh fish slightly bumped into my back (thanks man), without a second of hesitation I followed him into the light. Actually, to the fish section of the market. And there he uncovered them: langoustines, fresh, still alive, wiggling their claws on buckets of ice. Completely arroused by the sight (my kind of erotica, 50 shades of prey) I bought the biggest, freshest looking ones and headed home. And this is what I did…
– 1 kilo of škampi
– 1 dcl of quality olive oil
– ½ of small yellow onion
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 2 table spoons of bread crumbs
– 3,5 dcl of dry white wine
– 1 table spoon of tomato concentrate or 2 fresh ones
– Salt, pepper
– Bunch of parsley
1. Rinse the shrimps.
2. Sautee the onion and garlic on olive oil until translucent and smelling. Add the škampi and cook for 10 more minutes.
3. Then add the wine, let it evaporate for a minute, then stir in the bread crumbs, tomato and a handfull of chopped parsley.
4. Season to taste, cover with a light a cook for 15 more minutes on low heat.
5. When done sprinkle with more chopped fresh parsley and serve with a loaf of fresh bread.
6. Let the games begin!
Don’t forget to dip!
This is what the aftermath should look like…