It’s a real sin if you haven’t tasted the legendary Hvar gregada and you’re spending your vacation on the island!
This post is also available in: Hrvatski (Croatian)
Whether you’re staying on our island for the first time or you’re a regular visitor on Hvar, there’s one thing you should not dare to miss – enjoying local food.
One thing especially-the local delicacy, by far the most famous Hvar gregada (fish stew) or as the locals say it “forska gregoda“.
Until you have tasted the local food you can’t claim to know the essence of this region and its people, treating you as a guest.
To smell, see and then taste a particular dish means to lock that sensory pleasure in your memory forever.
Marcel Proust once noted down that there was a special magic bringing the memories of a place and people to awakening directly from culinary pleasures.
What’s so special about the Hvar gregada?
At Robinson the gregada has been made ever since this gastonomic heaven existed. Its owners did not doubt a second which local dish will be the leading star on the menu.
They even gave it a special name – Crusoe’ s bowl.
Had he found himself on Hvar, in the Mekićevica bay, Robinson Crusoe would have undoubtedly made the gregada!
Why precisely that dish?
Well, it’s because the gregada, widely eaten in the whole of Dalmatia, is basically a very simple and modest fish meal, popular with fishermen, made at first from a minute fish, not a white fish intended for the well off.
It is believed the gregada had existed since ancient times, since Greeks inhabited the island.
Its name most probably derives from the name for Greeks. The people of Hvar called them Grego.
If you ask Ms Finke Ivkovic, main chef of the restaurant for almost a decade, whether she was holding something back when she’s preparing the gregada, she’ll tell you that the only thing there is to know about the way to prepare it, is the temperature at which it is cooked. It must be very high.
So, if you intended to prepare it yourself at home on the stove or on a gas cooker, the heat won’t be enough for you to succeed in producing this delicacy the way they do it in the restaurant.
The recipe for the famous gregada (Crusoe’s bowl)
“The gregada is a dish without a lot of spices. There are a million ways to prepare it on the island, but we do it the simplest way.”, tells us Finke, revealing the recipe in the company of her colleague, assistant chef, Senada Kubat.
“You place the potatoes, cut into slices about half a centimeter thick, into the bowl, then put the onions, sliced in the same way. Then you add fresh, white fish, most often sea bass or gilthead sea bream. Then add garlic, salt, pepper and parsley. All this is boiled in a little water. The fish is left dry on one side and we add some olive oil to it.”, explains Finke.
At Robinson they also put some shrimp or other crab in the gregada, and half a tomato, which they later take out so that the dish would not be red, resembling “brudet” (seafood stew) in colour. While you cook the gregada you don’t stir it, just shake it occasionally to keep the fish from sticking. The dish is then brought to the table in the pot or bowl in which it was cooked.
And there you have it!
What is not written in the recipe, but has been done here for ages and is considered wisdom, is that you enjoy the Crusoe’s bowl exactly the way the Dalmatians do it – slowly, carefree, on you own or in small company, in the shade of olive groves overlooking the open sea.
This is the only way to get the magic Proust writes about.
If you would like to have the heavenly Hvar gregada made at Robinson remind you of the happy and carefree Dalmatian summers, just visit us.
We are all into creating memories with food!