Friday, 3 July 2015

Transylvania and its food

An interesting documentary about the Transylvanian region of Romania, highlighting some traditional food production techniques and how these are being developed to promote the area and provide jobs.

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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Common Romanian Fish - A Glossary

I've been a bit lazy when it comes to posting recipes lately, mostly because I've covered most of my sarmale (cabbage leaves stuffed with pork - one glaring omission from my blog I must confess), home-made sausages, slow-roasted belly of pork and other waist-expanding goodies, like most people, I've pledged to eat a little more healthily including plenty of fish.
favourites already. Now 2014 is here and after a festive season of stuffing my face with

Stolen from
Fish is very popular in many areas of Romania, but particularly in the Danube Delta where fishing and cooking fish is a way of life. Bucharest has some excellent fish markets where you can get plenty of local freshwater varieties as well as fish from the Black Sea or those brought in from further afield. Back when I posted about grilled trout I included a short guide to choosing fresh fish so I thought it appropriate to publish a glossary or translation of Romanian fish (or if not indigenous to Romania, at least eaten here) so that if you are unfamiliar with the appearance of fresh fish, you can at least know what you're buying.

Freshwater Fish:

Salau (/sha-low/) - Zander - whitish flesh, often breaded and fried
Stiuca (/shtew-ka/) - Pike - quite boney but tasty when breaded
Pastrav (/pas-trav/) - Trout - commonly farmed in the mountainous areas
Pastrav somonat (/pas-trav so-mo-nat/) - Rainbow trout - great grilled
Crap (/crap/) - Carp - large fish, often sold as steak fillets
Biban (/bee-ban) - Perch - smallish fish, excellent skinned and fried
Caras (/ca-ras/) - Prussian carp - small-medium boney fish, sometimes used in soups
Somn (/somn/) - Wels catfish  - big and thick-skinned, fries and bakes well
Novac (/no-vak/) - Bighead carp - Haven't tried this one yet
Scrumbie (/skoom-bee-ye/) - Pontic Shad - a bit boney and quite fatty

Saltwater fish:

Calcan (/kal-kan/) - Turbot - A lovely tasty but pricey flat fish
Dorada (/do-rah-da/) - Gilt-head bream - Very tasty grilled on the BBQ
Macrou (/ma-crow/) - Mackerel - Oily sea fish good for grilling
Somon (/so-mon/) - Salmon - extremely versitile
Sardine (/sar-dee-ne/) - Sardines - gutted, dredged and fried - unbeatable!
Ton (/ton/) - Tuna - mostly found canned but occasionally I've seen fresh ones
Hamsie (/ham-see-ye/) - Anchovy - small fish good for frying


Creveti (/kre-vetz/) - Prawns/shrimps - You know what to do with these
Midii (/me-dee/) - Mussels - used in stews or sautéed with garlic and polenta
Raci (/rach/) - Crayfish - boiled or grilled, simlar to prawns
Homar (/ho-marr/) - Lobster - mostly found in restaurant or upmarket supermarkets
Caracatita (/kara-ka-titza/) - Octopus - you often see the small ones in markets
Sepie (/se-pee-e/) - Squid - mostly simply grilled

Those are the main types I regularly see in the fish markets and shops. There are other fish very you see from time to time but I haven't listed them all. The others are often fairly easy to work out (I'm sure you can guess which fish 'hering' is) or occasionally the imported ones bring their foreign name along with them, like levrek (the Turkish word for sea bass) even though it has a Romanian name (biban de mare).

Are there any very traditionally-used fish I've missed? What are your favourite traditional fish recipes?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Chiftele cu sos rosu

"Meatballs in tomato sauce"

This is Ms Romfoody’s grandmother’s meatball recipe. The sauce is a simple tomato sauce made from ‘bulion’, which in the countryside the village cooks make in large quantities late in the summer to
provide them with tomato pasta throughout the winter. Meatballs, or ‘chiftele’, are quite common in Romania and I suspect the word, which is pronounced ‘kif-te-le’ is related to the Turkish ‘kofte’. It can be served with a variety of things, such as mashed potato (cartofi piure), polenta (mamaliga) or homemade pasta (taitei de casa).

Time: 30 mins (if you multi-task)
Servings: For two people


For the meatballs:
250g pork shoulder, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbs of oil plus more for shallow frying
1 tbs of water, cold
1 egg
Salt, pepper and any other fresh herbs you have handy, parsley or dill if you have it.

For the sauce:
2-3 tbs of oil
4-5 heaped tbs of concentrate tomato paste
½ cup of water (more can be added later if the sauce needs thinning out)
1 tbs flour
3-4 cloves of garlic (or more if you like it like that), thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Warm the oil in a saucepan and mix in the tomato paste very well and stir for a couple of minutes until well incorporated.
2. Add the water and blend in. Then leave to simmer gently for 7 minutes, stirring from time to time.
3. Next, add the tablespoon of flour and mix well, and the seasoning, fresh herbs, the bay leaf, and the chopped garlic, and simmer for about another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
4. You know that the sauce is ready when you get a kind of slightly denser layer on the top of the sauce. As this layer thickens (through further reduction) so the flavour intensifies. It’s up to you how wet/sticky/intense/diluted you want it.
5. Thoroughly mix the minced meat, onion, herbs and spices, and the egg together in a bowl.
6. If the meat isn’t particularly fatty, add the oil. If it has its own fat, you can skip the oil.
7. Add the water (if needed – it might be that the egg was enough, depending on its size), knead, and form into balls (with wet hands) about the size of a large walnut, and put to one side.
8. Heat some more oil in a pan (about 1cm of oil) and brown the meatballs all over. Remove to a dish with a slotted spoon to drain.

9. Pour the hot sauce over the meatball (or add the meatballs to the sauce), leave on the warm stove for ten minutes while you prepare the accompanying dishes and plate, then serve. You can garnish the sauce with fresh chopped parsley or mint (or a combination).