A guide to buying Adriatic fish at the market

There are more than 400 fish living in the Adriatic sea. Many of these Adriatic fishes are caught and sold at fish markets in Croatia. These fish markets are called “ribarnica”.

Shopping for fish at a ribarnica can be a little intimidating when you’re not familiar with the local types of fish. Which should you choose? What should you look for? What can you do with the fish once you’ve brought it home?

In this guide, we cover the 18 most common Adriatic fishes you might see at a fish market in Croatia including:

  • All the different names they may be called
  • When they are in season
  • Tips for buying
  • How to prepare each fish
  • Links to recipes

With this guide, you can buy a fish with confidence and cook it up like a local. You can even download a PDF so you can easily save this to your phone.

Time to dive in…

#1 Arbun

Arbun fish in Croatia
Image by Na udici

Names: arbun, arbul, arbor, ribun, rumenac, višćica, fag (Common pandora, Pagellus erythrinus)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year, especially in the spring

Tips on buying: Color of the skin must be intense pink-red.

How to prepare: Small are good fried and bigger are used for brodet. Arbun is also good for fish soup.

Recipes: Brodet from mixed fish, Dalmatian fish soup

#2 Brancin

Brancin fish in Croatia
Image by sportskiribolov.hr

Names: brancin, lubin, dut, levrek, smudut, vuk (European bass; Dicentrarchus labrax)

Seasons to buy: During all seasons, but it is easier to catch during autumn and spring.

Tips on buying: Brancin must have bright eyes with a visible pupil. The skin mustn’t be flabby.

How to prepare: Cooked, fried and grilled. It can also be baked in the oven or baked in salt.

Recipes: Brancin baked in aluminum foil, Steamed and marinated brancin

 

#3 Grdobina

Grdobina fish in Croatia
Image by Book.hr

Names: grdobina, grdobina mrkulja, rošpa, žaba, vrag, vražica (Angler; Lophius piscatorius)

Seasons to buy: It is best to buy it during April and May.

Tips on buying: Look for bright eyes. It should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Fried, cooked or in brodet. It is a common ingredient in fish soups, particularly the head. Breaded grdobina is a special delicacy.

Recipes: Breaded grdobina in white sauce, Grdobina na brudet

 

#4 Kantar

Two guys who caught kantar fish in Croatia
Image by Na udici

Names: kantar, kantara, kantor, konter, manjamorta, grobar, sivac, picigamorte, kantra (Black seabream; Spondyliosoma cantharus)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year, but it is best in warmer months.

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Many ways, but it is best grilled.

Recipes: Grilled kantar

#5 Kovač

Kovač in Croatia
Image by Na udici

Names: kovač, šanpjer, riba Svetog Petra (John Dory, St Pierre, Peter’s Fish; Zeus faber)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year

Tips on buying: Moist and undamaged fins, light gills, and shelly skin.

How to prepare: In brodet, popara, gregada, baked in the oven or cooked.

Recipes: Popara (use kovač instead of škarpina), Gregada

 

#6 Lokarda

Lokarda fish in Croatia
Image by Adriatic Nature

Names: lokarda, plavica (Chub mackerel; Scomber Japonicus)

Seasons to buy: Spring until autumn

Tips on buying: Commonly replaced by fish vendors with skuša (mackerel). The trick for recognizing lokarda is that it has big eyes in relation to the rest of the body. Its back skin is greenish.

How to prepare: Fried or on the grill.

Recipes: Fried lokarda, Marinated and grilled lokarda

 

#7 Murina

Murina fish in Croatia
Image by Zenodo

Names: murina (Mediterranean moray, Muraenidae)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Fried or in brodet.

Recipes: Marinated and fried murina, brodet

 

#8 Orada

Orada fish in Croatia
Image by Bez Gluten

Names: orada, komarča, odlanica, lovrata, zlatulja, dinigla (Gilt-head seabream; Sparus aurata)

Seasons to buy: Spring and summer

Tips on buying: Wild orada is more expensive than the farmed one. To be sure that you are buying wild fish, look for a long, stylish body and a sign that says “divlja”, which means “wild”.

It must have a harmonious abdomen in relation to the body. Its color is bright silver-greenish-golden and it has a black stain behind the head. The color of the farmed fish is clear silver and its body isn’t proportional. Its tail is underdeveloped, the belly is bloated and it often has no scales.

How to prepare: In all possible ways.

Recipes: Baked orada with onions and potatoes, Steamed orada

 

#9 Oslić

Oslić fish in Croatia
Image by WWF

Names: oslić, magarcic, magarčić, mol, murluc, oslic, tovar, ugota (Atlantic hake; Merluccius merluccius)

Seasons to buy: March to October

Tips on buying: Look for a fresh sea smell and bright eyes. The weight must be proportional to its size, otherwise it was on the ice for too long and the meat structure will have degraded. If the oslić is rounded and bent, it was frozen more than once.

How to prepare: Small oslić is suitable for frying.

Recipes: Fried oslić, Oslić in spicy sauce

 

#10 Pic

Pic (seabream) in Croatia
Image by Adriatic Nature

Names: pic (Sharpsnout seabream; Diplodus puntazzo)

Seasons to buy: Best during summer

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: In all possible ways, but it makes a delicious fish soup and mixed brodet.

Recipes: Mixed brodet, Fish soup

 

#11 Raža

Raža (ray) fish in Croatia
Image by rtl.hr

Names: raža (Rajiformes)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the year

Tips on buying: The skin should be removed.

How to prepare: Cooked and seasoned with olive oil.

Recipes: Cooked raža, Raža in tomato and pepper sauce

 

#12 Skuša

Skuša (Mackerel) fish in Croatia
Image by Varalicar

Names: skuša, škombar, škombra, golac, vrnut (Mackerel; Scomber scombrus)

Seasons to buy: Spring and summer

Tips on buying: Mackerel should have a smooth and firm body, clear eyes and red gills.

How to prepare: Baked in the oven or grilled. It is also commonly marinated in olive oil and vinegar.

Recipes: Marinated and baked skuša, Skuša with chard and potatoes

#13 Srdela

Srdela fish in Croatia
Image by Dobar tek

Names: srdela, sardina, srđela, šardela, štijavica, žir (European pilchard; Sardina pilchardus)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year

Tips on buying: The fish must appear shocked. Its body must be stiff and silver without any blood, especially on gills. The eyes must be white and not blurry. The smell almost neutral and the meat should be hard and undamaged.

How to prepare: It is the most delicious when fried or grilled. It can also be prepared salted, marinated, and breaded.

Recipes: Fried srdela, Srdela baked in oven

 

#14 Šarag

Šarag fish in Croatia
Image by Pula Online

Names: šarag, sarag, šarka, serak, serag, šarak, crnoprugac, sarčić (Sargo or white seabream; Diplodus sargus)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year, but the season starts in April.

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Baked in the oven.

Recipes: Baked šarag

 

#15 Škarpina

Skarpina fish in Croatia
Image by Seafishing how to

Names: škarpina, škrpina, crveni škrpun, logrnja, skarpina, skrpina (Red scorpionfish, Bigscale scorpionfish; Scorpaena scrofa)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the year

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Baked in the oven, grilled, or in brodet.

Recipes: Škarpina baked with vegetables, Škarpina brodet

 

#16 Ugor

Ugor fish in Croatia
Image by Pijani Tvor

Names: ugor, grongo, školjar, gruj (European conger; Conger conger)

Seasons to buy: During winter

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: In brodet. Bigger ones are suitable for cutting into steaks and frying.

Recipes: Ugor brodet, Ugor steaks in caper sauce

 

#17 Ušata

Ušata fish in Croatia
Image by Sportski Ribolov

Names: ušata (Oblada melanura)

Seasons to buy: Throughout the entire year

Tips on buying: Eyes should be clear, flesh should be firm and it should smell like the sea.

How to prepare: Cooked or in brudet. Larger ušata are good for roasting.

Recipes: Mixed brudet (add ušata), Fried ušata

 

#18 Zubatac

Zubatac fish in Croatia
Image by Sportski Ribolov

Names: zubatac, dental, škojarić, zubac, zubatić (Common dentex; Dentex dentex)

Seasons to buy: Primarily during summer and autumn

Tips on buying: Smaller zubatac are tastier.

How to prepare: In all possible ways, but it is usually grilled.

Recipes: Grilled zubatac, Baked zubatac

 

People also ask…

What are the most common fishes in the Adriatic Sea? The most commonly eaten saltwater fishes that live in the Adriatic sea include the škarpina, brancin, zubatac, orada, srdela, grdobina and kovač.

Where can I purchase fish in Croatia? There are local fish markets throughout Croatia, which are usually located in the city center. A fish market is called “ribarnica” in the Croatian language.

 

Have you eaten any of these fishes? If so, let us know how you like to prepare them in the comments.

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