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Kvarner Scampi – The finest of Mediterranean seafood

Mediterranean seafood from Kvarner Bay

Due to many Mediterranean influences, the cuisine of Opatija Riviera is based on Mediterranean seafood – fish and shellfish combined with pasta, fruits and vegetables, olives and olive oil, sweet chestnuts and wine. But when asked to name the most delicious of all Adriatic specialties, most people will say without hesitation: scampi. Everybody seems to agree with the claim that the most delicious scampi in the world come "from the blue mud of Kvarner Bay". Many gourmets from across the globe are willing to pay much more for the Kvarner scampi than for any other type of this delicacy.

The origins of Kvarner scampi

It is often said that Kvarner scampi are the result of accidental crossbreeding of indigenous scampi with those that were brought to the harbor of Rijeka from the South China Sea stuck to the hulls of British warships. Restaurant owners are very fond of telling this rather exotic story to their guests, convinced that it will make the scampi even tastier. However, this story, like so many others, is only part of marketing. It is much more plausible that the present Kvarner scampi were brought from Norway and artificially colonized into the Adriatic, as concluded by a study some 30 years ago, but due to warmer and shallower sea their armor is thinner and their meat pliable and full of flavor.

How to catch the scampi?

If asked how scampi are caught, most people will just shrug their shoulders or say it is with fishing nets. This answer is only partly true. The most delicious and most appreciated scampi, those from the Kvarner bay, are caught exclusively with fishing traps on a long line. There is a great difference between scampi that are caught by fishing traps and those "picked up" from the seabed with nets. Fishing nets are not selective – they just pick up whatever they find on the seabed, which is why fish and scampi in the nets are often bruised. Moreover, there is no mud or sand in the Kvarner scampi caught by fishing traps.

The best ways to prepare the Kvarner Scampi

Kvarner ScampiKvarner scampi are usually prepared in a several traditional ways. As an appetizer we often find them raw and marinated in a few drops of lemon juice and top quality extra virgin olive oil with toast. Hot appetizers like risottos, Istrian pasta or traditional "pljukanci" all taste grat with pliable soft flesh of the scampi. As a main dish the scampi are prepared in a "buzara stew" – one of most famous Adriatic seafood dishes. The buzara emphasizes not just the natural aroma, but also the scent of the Kvarner scamp. This is the most highly appreciated dish of the Kvarner coast, almost mythical in some areas. Taste various traditional and modern dishes with this specialty of Mediterranean seafood and enjoy in the harmony of flavors of the Kvarner scampi in numerous top quality restaurants in Opatija.

Scampi "Buzara" Recipe

If you are staying on Opatija Riviera in self catered accommodation such as mobile homes or apartments, why not pop to the local market, get some fresh scampi and try to make Scampi "Buzara" meal yourself? The meal is very simple to make and perfect to enjoy in a warm evening close to the beach!

You will need:

  • 1.5 kg of fresh scampi
  • 100 ml of olive oil
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
  • 400 ml of white wine
  • freshly grounded peper
  • salt

Preparing and cooking method:

  • Wash the scampi
  • Peel and dice the tomatoes
  • Heat the olive oil in the pan and add finely chopped garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs and diced tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes
  • Add wine and scampi and salt and peper to taste
  • Cook covered for further 15 minutes

Serve with freshly baked bread. Enjoy!

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