Fishermen’s Stew (Brujetić) with Sardines have achieved cult status and are praised to the skies. Thousands of pages have been written in praise of Adriatic grouper, dentex, sea bream, sea bass and John Dory, which you will find freshly caught, succulent and expensive in nearly every island tavern or restaurant. If you decide to enjoy them in a brujet (fishermen’s stew) or grilled, you will not regret it. However, do not forget everything that you can prepare for yourself, at ten or even twenty times lower cost. If you opt for sardines, we offer you two traditional
fishermen’s recipes.
Sardines are rightly called the “providers for the coastal population” because through hard and less hard times, they have been a major source of nourishment. Sardines are prepared in many ingenious ways, which is understandable because it was necessary to break the monotony. Numerous dishes in which sardines are the main or, in the majority of cases, the only ingredient have achieved cult status and are praised to the skies. It is said that many expensive delicacies that the upper class had on their tables could not compare to this little, insignificant-looking but plentiful fish. Some people insist that they have never tasted anything better.
One of the dishes where sardines are the main ingredient, and even today arouses general enthusiasm, is brujet, fishermen’s stew! Fishermen’s mothers or none (grandmothers) used to cook brujet from sardines. Wives were also permitted to do so but only after they had acquired the necessary experience, especially if they came from non-fishing families. If it happened that there was too much olive oil in the dish or if the onions were undercooked and gave the family indigestion, you can be sure that blame was heaped on the brujet and the cook. Unlike brujet for festive occasions, which we’ll talk about some other time, this brujet is usually referred to in the diminutive, brujetić, indicating that it is not particularly caloric and requires a side dish, usually polenta. Nevertheless, when brujetić is prepared now in the summer, polenta may be a little too heavy and it could be preferable to offer boiled chard, zucchini or other seasonal greens.