One of the most popular meals in Croatia’s Dalmatia region is peka, a blend of vegetables and meat drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with herbs, and then baked to perfection under a bell-like dome, or ispod čripnje. You’ll see it listed on menus throughout the region, and if you are lucky enough to be invited into the home of a Dalmatian family, it’s likely that you’ll feast upon it for dinner. It is traditional for Dalmatians to cook peka in their fireplaces at home. Many Croatian families, especially those in the countryside, even have a special oven outdoors for cooking.
When spring returns to Croatia, residents do what they’ve done for centuries: take to the fields and forests in search of wild asparagus, known in Croatian as šparoge. The asparagus-hunting season has just begun here in central Dalmatia, and last weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited by Croatian friends to go foraging for it in the countryside, about 40 minutes’ drive from Trogir.
We followed our cooking class instructor, Carole, down a dimly-lit Bangkok passageway that opened up into a large marketplace. Walking among mounds of fresh cabbage, beansprouts, Thai eggplants, mushrooms, dried shrimp and fish, Carole taught us how to select the best ingredients for the dishes we would be cooking that morning: Kang Khiao Wan Gai (Green Curry with Chicken), Pad Thai with Tofu & Chicken, and Pumpkin in Sweet Coconut Milk.