Traveling to Pag island in order to taste the most famous cheese here is a culinary trip guaranteed to bring full satisfaction. The awarded Paski Sir made of 100% sheep milk combines the saltiness of the Bora and the aromas of the island's vegetation in a very praised recipe. Served as an appetizer in combination with wine or giving meals a unique flavor while used as ingredient, the Croatian artisan product is a definite must try.
Diverse Croatian Cuisine
Looking at Croatian cuisine, the menu will reflect differences when changing from a region to another. Even if the main distinction would divide gastronomical recipes into continental and Mediterranean, there is further variety due to the geography, the history or the culture of every area.
Traveling to Pag, two of the main gastronomical specialties would be Paski Sir and grilled lamb. Part of Dalmatia, the sunny island incorporates the Mediterranean style of cooking with great difference from other islands due to special touches like the local herbs. Seafood enthusiasts will have a big variety to choose from as the grilled fish, stuffed squid or lobster make great choices in combination special herb sauces.
The cultural influences of the Croatian neighbors can be observed also while serving a meal in Dalmatia. Gnocchi (Njoke) as well as risotto and macaroni make great side dishes; even better if they come prepared with fully matured Paski Sir.
Triangles to Whet Everybody's Appetite
Planning to enjoy Paski Sir as a starter? No matter if in a restaurant or in the privacy of your own home, the delicious ewe's hard cheese platter would traditionally be served in a particular way. The cutting into triangles, leaving the rind on may not be a necessity even if the Croats prefer it as such; the ''ground rule'' states that the Pag specialty should come separate from other aliments. The reason for the restriction is simple: this way nothing could obscure the unique taste.
Improved Shades of Green
There are multiple ways to use Pag cheese as an ingredient. For the ones who believe that green stands for healthy, here are two delicious recipes both easy and fast to prepare.
Roasted Asparagus with Pag Cheese
~ 1 bunch of medium sized fresh green asparagus
~ 2 table spoons of olive oil
~ salt and pepper for seasoning
~ 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
~ grated Paski Sir
1. Prepare the asparagus, break off any tough parts
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan; when the oil is hot add the asparagus and roast it for about 5 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add lemon zest, salt and pepper and the grated Paski Sir.
Risotto of Peas, Mint and Paski Sir
~ 175 gr. Of risotto rice
~ 60 gr. Butter
~ 1 medium onion, diced
~ 1 clove of garlic, crushed
~ 1 table spoon of fresh mint, chopped
~ 1 table spoon of parsley
~ 1,5 table spoon mint sauce
~ 200 gr. Peas
~ 750 ml. of chicken/vegetable stock
~ 75 ml. vermouth or white wine
~ 120 gr. grated Paski Sir
1. In the melted butter, add the onions and almost the entire tbsp of mint (leave some for end); saute over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the crushed garlic for the last two minutes.
2. Heat the chicken/vegetable stock in another pan.
3. Add the risotto rice to the onions, stir well for another minute or two.
4. Turn up the heat under risotto pan; add vermout or white wine while continuing stirring.
5. Once the liquid evaporates add from the second pan a ladle of hot stock. Continue like this for about 15 minutes and test the risotto grains to see if it's cooked.
6. With the last addition of stock, put in the rest of the mint, the parsley, peas, mint sauce, 2/3 of the grated Paski Sir.
7. Season, add the rest of the Paski Sir.
Considered a Croatian classic, the Italian inspired gnocchi does not enchant with shades of green but it sure make a delicious choice.
~ 1 kg potatoes
~ 70 gr. flour
~ 2 eggs
~ 2 table spoons butter
~ 120 gr. grated Paski Sir
1. Boil the potatoes, peel their skin off, mash them and leave them to cool down. An option is to put them on a tray and place them into refrigerator to cool faster.
2. Add some flour on the bottom of a mixing bowl, put in the cooled potatoes and add some extra flour on top.
3. Add the two eggs, the butter, the grated Paski Sir and mix everything together till you obtain a nice composition.
4. Take a piece of the mix, roll it into a strip and cut it into small pieces.
5. The small pieces are rolled on a gnocchi paddle. The paddle will make small ''dimples'', important texture. If you do not possess the gnocchi paddle, you can always improvise with a fork.
6. Add the small potato mix pieces into a pan with boiling water and cook them until they float. Another option would be to fry them until they turn to a golden shade.
7. If there is too much of the gnocchi left, the pieces can be frozen until you decide to prepare some more.
Calamari with Paski Sir and Prsut
A true Mediterranean dish combining seafood with two Dalamatian specialties, this main dish is not the easiest to prepare but it sure is worth every minute.
~ 8 large calamari
~ 300 gr. of Dalmatian double smoked ham, Prsut
~ 500 gr. Paski Sir
~ parsley, oregano, salt and pepper for seasoning
~ 3/4 cup of olive oil
~ 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
~ 2 small onions, chopped
~ 1/2 cup of white wine, preferably dry.
1. Cut the cheese into slices and the Prsut ham into small squares.
2. Combine into a bowl the Paski Sir, the Prsut ham with the onions, garlic, parsley and condiments.
3. Into another bowl mix the olive oil with the white whine, then add the first mix to it.
4. Prepare the calamari (cut fins/tails)
5. Fill the calamari with the mixture and bake them in olive oil for a few minutes until they turn to a golden shade.
Try the great variety of cheese recipes made with Paski Sir. Taste its natural flavors while served as a starter or the complex aroma it provides while used as an ingredient. Order the Croatian classics or adventure yourself into cooking Dalmatian recipes and wishing your guests ''dobar tek''.