Fish grilled on the framed metal bars over charcoal or wood is a favourite way of preparing fish in Dalmatia. The smell of the grilled fish always evokes memories from my summer vacations at the seaside.
When I was young we often barbecued for lunch. Fresh fish was a staple during summer months. Every once in a while my mother’s uncle would come home with freshly caught fish an shared his catch giving us half. I would help my grandfather preparing the fire behind the house, in deep shade, while my grandmother was preparing the fish. It was no big charcoal grill, just dry wood on a small open fire, crackling and burning lightly as we would sprinkle the fish with olive oil using rosemary branches. During lunch, my grandparents would have a glass of two of red wine. They say fish swims three time, first in the sea, the second time in oil and third in wine. One cannot eat fish and drink water so even me, a young girl, was allowed to have a splash of wine with water in my glass, a beverage called bevanda.
In the evening, coming home from the beach and hungry after the afternoon spent on the burning sun and sand, you could sometimes smell the grilled fish neighbours were preparing for dinner. Even today, it is the smell of home, sea and summer.
In Croatia, even in the capital, far away from the seaside, people gather on the weekends to barbecue in gardens or in the park next to Jarun lake, a place equipped with small pavilions and grills where we so often celebrated with friends.
On the coast, traditionally, fish is cleaned (leaving the head on), glazed with some olive oil and placed on the hot bars. While it’s being baked it’s sprinkled with olive oil using a rosemary branch for that extra touch. Once it is baked, it’s put on a long serving plate, drizzled with some olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley and served with a glass of homemade red wine.