Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fish, grill and woodfire

We made a short break from sailing to meet our relatives form Zagreb. Off course, family reunions are always ideal opportunities for great dinning! And in Dalmatia this demands to start the woodfire and grill the fish. We call it “Riba na gradele” or shorter “Gradelada”.

To grill the fish requires audience because it is the ritual, it is the ceremony. To be responsible for starting up the fire and manage the grilling, to be “The Master or The Mistress (there is no gender problem here ) of Ceremony” is a big privilege and it is considered to be a great honor.

It takes years of learning and practice to get that right feeling that is necessary to start the fire. To know when the heat is right to put the grills on fire, when is the best moment to turn the fish so it doesn’t break or that skin doesn’t stick to the grills... Some believe that it is the talent you have to be born with.

Riba na gradele - (Grilled fish)
Starting the fire is first and crucial step.

Start the smaller flame with old newspaper and smaller, dry branches. Be aware to leave plenty of air space in between branches because fire needs oxygen to burn.

Set larger wood in the form of pyramid on top of the firestarter. Using the right wood for the fire is very important. Use dry wood. "Seasoned" wood is the best for making a fire. The wood should burn slow and hot. Add grapevine twigs when grilling the fish because it will give special aroma to the fish. Keep your fire "alive" until wood compliantly burs out and transforms in red embers.

Meanwhile, clean the grills with steel brush. Put the grills on the fire (when the flame is still high) so the all residues from earlier gradelade burns out. Afterwards smear with olive oil using the napkin.

When the grills are hot and the wood has burned out and you have hot embers, it is time to start to grill the fish.

While you are waiting wood to burn out, clean and gut the fish. Smaller fishes you can leave whole but larger you will have to slice. Dry the fish and then season it with olive oil and salt.

Put the fishes on the grills. Wait until the skin or meat gets the crust. Turn the fish. Use the rosemary to pat fish with olive oil. When other side gets the crust remove fish on plate and pour olive oil, parsley and garlic.

People in Dalmatia believe that fish has to swim three times: in the sea, in the oil and in the wine, so the glass (one glass, not whole bottle) of good Dalmatian wine is important part of the fish meal.


Jeanne said...

Hello and welcome to WTSIM! This is a truly delightful post - the mother of my best friend back in South Africa was Croatian and I can imagine her surrounded by family and friends, enjoying this fish barbecue. I also love the way you describe the art of being the master/mistress of ceremonies - it's so true that BBQing is an art! The picture is awesome and I can almost smell that fish sizzling.

Thanks so much for takign part in WTSIM and hope to see you again next month :)

fresh adriatic fish said...

Hi, Jeanne, thank you for your comment and, even more, thank you for hosting such a great event. Looking forward to your round up!

John J. Goddard said...

Srdele su najbolje!

I'm back in the US from Splitsko-Dalmatinsko for now, but I anticipate being back in Croatia sometime next year. Actually, I'll need to take care of some things in Zagreb too, so wherever you are we should try to stay in contact.

Now that I'm back with a good internet connection (nema u selu) I'll be able to post much more soon. I have quite a bit of video I'm editing and encoding too.

Great start on your blog!

Articles of Mastication
John J. Goddard

FreshAdriaticFish said...

@ John - Pomalo, ha! It so nice to read this! I live in between Split and Zagreb so I'm always somewhere near! Looking forward to your new post about Croatia!

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