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Shrimp, Mussels and Clams, Oh My! Learn How to Cook Buzara Like an Authentic Croatian!

My writing includes my personal travel experiences, destination, history, and cultural information.

After my most recent visit to Dubrovnik and your virtual visit, it's time for us to explore one of the most traditional dishes of the region. Buzara, which is similar to a stew, is made with shrimp. Using the same recipe, you can substitute mussels or clams.

What is Buzara?

There are two types of Buzara; red and white. The difference is the white Buzara is made with white wine and the red is made with red wine and a bit of tomato paste. Typically, in Dubrovnik, you will find the red Buzara. Around the coastal region, where Dubrovnik is located, in Croatia, there are substantial vineyards. Most of those, for some reason, grow red grapes. Europeans always choose fresh local products over importing ingredients and for this reason, the red Buzara is more typical to Dubrovnik. I especially like the red over the white. But, I love seafood, so I'll take either in a heartbeat!

What is the Best Way to Prepare and Serve this Croatian Masterpiece?

If fresh and never frozen shrimp are available in your area, this should be your go-to. Frozen will also work.

Pro Cooking Tip:

Cook the shrimp or whatever shellfish you are using with the shell on. This adds a bit of a sweet taste to the dish. If using shrimp, remove the legs before cooking. I know this is a messy way to eat the finished dish, but trust me, messy hands will be worth it!

Most often, the Buzara is served with polenta or pasta. You can also serve it with a salad and crusty bread. My personal preference is to enjoy Buzara with a salad and pasta using the bread to soak up the juice in the bowl! I told you, I always go big!

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds large scampi, washed with legs removed and deveined
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1.2 cups white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine, (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy optional
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes to add a spicy flair (optional: but it's my personal preference)
  • Dry breadcrumbs for thickening if needed
  • Lemon or Lime Wedges
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Instructions

  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Briefly sauté shrimp (no more than 2 minutes), then add minced garlic and tomato paste. Saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. (If you are using red pepper flakes, this is the time to add them.)
  2. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Add wine (and brandy, if using). Boil slowly for about 10 minutes. If you are opting to also include the red wine, add it at this step.
  3. When cooking is complete, add parsley. If the sauce is too thin, thicken it with breadcrumbs. Serve with lemon or lime wedges. Place individual servings in a bowl with the sauce, serving buttered pasta or polenta on the side.

Pro Cooking Tip:

If I am out of bread crumbs, I use a couple of teaspoons of instant mashed potato flakes. Add slowly to the sauce until you reach desired thickness. To be honest, you can use the potato flakes in any dish to thicken. They don't lump up and there is no alteration to the taste.

This recipe was for the red Buzara, again, typical to Dubrovnik.

My Impressions:

Personally, this is one of my favorite dishes. I learned the recipe when living in Europe and it has become a go-to. There aren't a lot of ingredients. This dish can be prepared in about 15-20 minutes and it's simple to make! I also happen to be a seafood lover and this dish fills that craving. Served with pasta and a good, fresh crusty bread, and I'm a happy gal!

I have been served Buzara in a few restaurants where they have used a combination of shellfish, namely shrimp, mussels, and squid. In my opinion, Buzara is delicious with whatever shellfish it is prepared with. I hope you have enjoyed this recipe. After giving it a whirl, please come back and leave comments on this article!

Until next time friends, remember "To Travel is To Live!"

© 2022 Dee Serkin

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