Brudet (Croatian Seafood Stew)

5 Nov


Brudet is a fish stew from Croatia, similar to an Italian Brodetto or Greek Bourdeto. All three are based on the Venetian word brodeto (“broth”). The recipes for each dish are similar; in fact, if you ever find yourself traveling along the Adriatic coast and see a similarly-named dish on a restaurant menu, you can probably bet it’s going to be a delicious fish stew cooked in a tomato base.

While there is a lot of variation to this dish, I like the Croatian version because it is an easy and unassuming approach to making soup. Marinate some fish for a while, then throw everything together at the proper time; it’s a true one-pot dish. Traditionally this dish is made with a mixture of fishes, to include eel, rockling, or coral trout; since they’re hard to come by, I think any firm white fish should be okay. I used cod. Adding shrimp and mussels also gives the stew a more rich and satisfying flavor.


Serves four

1 lb firm white fish filets (cod, trout, halibut, or any combination), cut into 2″ pieces
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tbsp)
1/4 cup chopped parsley

for later:
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
2 cups fish stock or water
salt and pepper to taste, about 1/2 tsp each
1 lb raw shrimp, shelled
1 lb mussels, washed and scrubbed
10 cherry tomatoes

While water can be used to make the soup, adding a couple cups of fish stock really takes it to another level. To make stock, sauté some onions, carrots, and celery in butter until softened, then add fish bones/heads, some peppercorns, and enough water to cover everything; simmer for 40 minutes, add a little white wine, then strain. Easy.

The fish takes some marinating, so let’s knock that out first. Combine 2 tbsp olive oil, 6 cloves minced garlic, lemon juice, and the chopped parsley, then rub it all over the fish pieces. Cover and put in the fridge; marinate for 2 hours.

Once the fish is done marinating, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet on medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the onion slices and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Once the onions are softened, add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until they are softened and cooked down, another 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, white wine, and bay leaves and return to a simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper to you liking.

Add the fish and enough stock or water to cover the fish, about 2 cups; return to a simmer, and let it bubble for about a minute before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Add the shrimp, mussels, and cherry tomatoes; simmer until the fish is cooked through and the mussels open, about 5-6 minutes. Don’t stir the pot, but shake it back and forth if needed to redistribute everything. And whatever you do, don’t cover the pot; locals believe that covering the pot will dilute its taste.

Sprinkle on a little more parsley if you’re up for it, and serve. This dish is often served with polenta, but I think it’s just fine as it is.

34 Responses to “Brudet (Croatian Seafood Stew)”

  1. Ally Weng November 5, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    what a wonderful meal, thank you! I can almost smell it : )

  2. FightForTheBite November 5, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    This is a great meal! I’ve had it while visiting relatives in Croatia and it’s delicious, especially with fresh fish!

  3. Priscilla @ hotbites.wordpress.com November 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Looks delicious! Would love to try.

  4. postcarddotworld November 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    yum yum! A must try and that’s for sure! :)

  5. Bill November 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    Such a beautiful bowl! I adore seafood soup of any kind and this is an amazing variation! I just discovered you blog and I’m a fan. I’ll definitely be back. Thanks for a great post!

  6. ZaCook November 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Looks amazing! I must try your recipe!

  7. toosjew November 6, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    I’ll try this one! It looks geat! I can almost smell it!

  8. goatsandgreens November 6, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    This looks lovely, and like at least one other of your respondents, I can smell the aromas! I shall have to play with this one. Soon!

  9. sailingfork November 18, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    This looks insanely good can’t wait to try this!

  10. Sarah Gober December 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m so excited to make this weekend with the fresh Halibut I got while in Alaska! :)

  11. rbateson December 21, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    Reblogged this on Hardcore Healthy.

  12. Christine |Taste of Divine December 28, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Hey Russ! This dish looks amazing! I am moving to the former Yugoslavia area (most likely Slovenia) soon and I am so excited about the food in that region of the world. I think I will make this for the hubby for our anniversary next month! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Russ Crandall December 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Thanks Christine! Wow, enjoy your move, I’m super jealous! I speak a smattering of Slovene but haven’t had the opportunity to practice it.

  13. chilliandmint January 30, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    Beyond delicious. This has to be one of my favourite dishes. It’s making me crave it now and it’s only breakfast time at the moment. Ahhh

  14. Erin C February 9, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    This was awesome! I had to sub shallots for garlic due to the most ridiculous allergy ever and omit the nightshades, but it still tasted great. As with all seafood, I had to double the amount of mussels so my 7-year old could “get enough”. Winner!

    • Russ Crandall February 9, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      Erin, awesome to hear!

    • sryanmliw February 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      I’m SO glad to read that your 7 year old liked this! I’m trolling looking for recipes I can try with my 8 year old. I also loved the “most ridiculous allergy ever”- I feel that way about some of mine.

  15. Maja April 22, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    It is so nice to see a recipe from my country on your blog! :) All the best to you and your family from Croatia!

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