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Island gastronomy

Komiža pogača (bread pie)

The Komiža pogača is an aromatic savoury dish that owes its name to the small town on the island of Vis, the charming Komiža located at the foot of the hill of Hum. Since this is a place with a long fishing tradition, it is no surprise that the local food of this place contains salted fish, which in fishing villages on the Croatian coast has been prepared since time immemorial. The well-known way of preserving fish does not only retain the nutrients which fresh fish offers us, but it also adds intensity and expressiveness to the taste. Komiža pogača is normally cut into cubes, and it is juicy and impressive because of the rich filling plus it is an excellent snack or even as a main meal. The base of Komiža pogača – savoury filled pie is leavened pastry which contains a combination of red onion, fresh or peeled tomatoes, salted fish such as anchovies or sardines, seasoning and capers to taste. The filling is prepared by briefly frying an onion in olive oil until it softens, and then the chopped fresh or peeled tomatoes are added. The thick red sauce must cool before the finely chopped fish can be added to it. The pastry is rolled out and cut into one large and one smaller piece, the larger then lines the dish in which the pogača will be baked. Then the filling of tomatoes, onions and fish is poured inside and the pogača is topped with the other piece of rolled out pastry. It is covered and moistened on the edges with olive oil, then the Komiža pogača is baked in the oven until the pastry turns brown, and the whole process is finished in just an hour. Komiža pogača is a winner with its combination of sweet-sour tomatoes and salty pieces of fish and is a great pleasure when made from original local ingredients. Considering that this is a savoury dish, it goes very well with wine red wine or even beer, and a slice of filling Komiža pogača will rejuvenate you after a long day spent in the sun or after wandering the narrow streets of this little island town.

Vis pogača (bread pie)

The town of Vis, once known as Issa, was the first town established on the island of Vis back in 397 BC. This town was founded by the ancient Greeks, conquerors who brought with them their typical food to the island, and with it they inspired the creation of the Vis pogača. Being that for centuries in the modest homes of fishermen and their families, ingredients were used which were easily available, in their kitchens simple dishes made from just a few ingredients were developed such as the famous Vis pogača. It is one more traditional Dalmatian dish which is prepared as a snack or brunch, and considering that it is quite filling, it can also be eaten for a fast lunch or light dinner. Its quick preparation from leavened pastry and its savoury filling make it a popular island dish to this day, and it is the predecessor of the neighbouring Komiža pogača. It differs by the contents of its filling and method of cutting, because it is served cut into triangles, and inside it is hidden a combination of chopped anchovies or sardines, sautéed onions, seasoning and capers to taste. Unlike the Komiža pogača, the Vis version has no tomatoes, however, it is also prepared in a tasty leavened pastry which makes it an excellent meal. The famous rivalry between the towns of Vis and Komiža encouraged the people of Komiža to alter the Vis pogača by adding tomatoes, whilst the Vis pogača itself has not changed much over the centuries. In the desire to refresh the traditional recipe a little, the islanders often add various Mediterranean seasonings or other species of fish such as tuna. The preparation of this pogača is not complete without olive oil which gives it a special aroma. Namely, the olive oil is used not only during the preparation of the filling but also during the baking of the pogača, when the pastry which covers the filling is coated with the oil. Then its edges are soaked with it so that they do not burn before the inside of the pogača is baked. Once finished, this pogača will make you forget all the stories of the rivalry and you will enjoy the original island flavours.

Forska (“For” being the local people’s name for the island of Hvar) pogača is the third in a series of savoury dishes which throughout history have been the basis of the island’s diet. In fact, it is the inhabitants of Hvar and Vis who point out that there are three sisters – three Dalmatian pogača, which stand side-by-side and with their taste still delight and feed the fishermen, their families and guests. The simplest of them is the Vis pogača, which is filled with sautéed onion and salty fish such as sardines or anchovies, next is the Komiža version, which along with those ingredients also has a tomato sauce, whilst the third and richest is Forska, because inside it is hidden sheep’s or goat’s cheese.

All three are prepared with a little yeast, but when there wasn't any, the islanders added a piece of bread or an old pogača to the dough. Although they look very similar, with their various fillings they win over fans of salted fish and tasty local produce. The dough for the Forska pogača is prepared from whole-wheat flour, salt, lukewarm water, a little fresh yeast, a little sugar and olive oil. The yeast is dissolved in warm water and left to stand then the flour which contains a little salt and the sugar is mixed into it. With the addition of the olive oil and lukewarm water, the soft dough is kneaded for fifteen minutes and is then left to stand for an hour. Whilst the dough is rising, the filling is prepared from the cleaned sardines, fried onions, chopped garlic and parsley, pitted olives and capers. All the filling’s ingredients are briefly fried together before adding to the pastry. Once ready the pastry is divided into two equal pieces and both are rolled out into thick circular crusts. The first piece is placed in a heated and floured metal tray, the savoury filling is spread inside and then slices or grated cheese added on the top. On this base the upper crust is placed, the edges of the pastry are joined and folded upwards so that the filling does not leak out during baking. Before baking, the pogača should be placed somewhere warm for ten minutes then the upper crust is pasted over with water mixed with a little olive oil. Forska pogača is baked in a warm oven for about forty minutes and served whilst warm with some local wine.

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