Off the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, near the estuary of the freshwater Mirna River, the region’s most delicious shellfish are harvested. This shellfish tradition has been traced back to antiquity, with scallops being the most frequently gathered. While shellfish are a seasonal delicacy, typically enjoyed in February and March, they can be eaten all year-round and prepared in many different ways such as stewed in a savory sauce, mixed with pasta or risotto, baked, grilled or cooked in wine with classic spices like garlic and parsley.
One of the most traditional ways of preparing shellfish in Istria is “na buzaru”. This buzara-style cooking is similar to the classic French dish of steamed mussels, and calls for shellfish being cooked in olive oil, wine, garlic, bread crumbs and fresh herbs.
1 kg mussels
4-5 garlic cloves
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
1.5 dcl white wine
First, clean and debeard the mussels using cold water and a clean brush. Once they’ve been scrubbed, rinse them with cold water and place them in a covered bowl in the fridge while preparing the broth.
Cover the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and add in the garlic. Lightly sauté the garlic before adding in the parsley followed by the mussels. Cover the skillet to allow the mussels to begin opening up, and stir occasionally. Once the mussels begin to open, pour in the white wine and mix together, allowing the sauce to come to a light boil. Then, pushing the mussels to the side of the pot, create a crater in the center of the skillet where you will add in the breadcrumbs. Lightly sauté the breadcrumbs in the center before combining them with the mussels. Stir occasionally, and let all of the shells open, then, remove from heat and serve!
In all colours of Istria