In Serbia and in most of the Balkan’s countries the accent on daily diets is all about meat, meat and more meat. However there is one type of protein that is much loved throughout the Balkans and that protein is Rainbow trout, scientifically known as Oncorhynchus Mykiss (strange, because I am sure it doesn’t want my kiss at all :)).
Because of it’s healthy properties and because super foods are all the rage these days Rainbow Trout is farmed on a large scale, usually in large ponds, especially in Turkey and Poland. living in these conditions, such as muddy and oxygen depleted waters, does the fish and the consumer no good.
Rainbow trout’s natural habitat are the cool waters of the Northern Hemisphere. As far as I know in Serbia this species lives in very clear and clean mountain creeks, streams and rivers which is the perfect environment for Rainbow Trout.
Rainbow Trout has a clean, natural and slightly nutty tasty, so its palatable to many people. Plus this fish can be prepared in many different ways, see below, and is a healthy alternative to food derived from four legged species.
Some of the health properties of Rainbow Trout include:
- Essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These are necessary for aiding our memories as well as assisting our bodies with growth and development. Omega 3 also has the potential for reducing blood pressure. Beyond that, studies have shown that Omega 3 fatty acids could well reduce inflammation and thus help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and even arthritis. The omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce your triglycerides which is a type of fat found in blood cells and which can clog your arteries..
- NO bad cholesterol (LDL, which stands for Low-Density Lipoproteins) and low on fat in general, so good for the arteries.
- An excellent source for Vitamin B12, which is required to form red blood cells that carry oxygen to the cells of our bodies. B12 is also responsible for maintaining a healthy brain and for creating DNA which holds our genetic material.
- Niacin is important since it converts food into energy and assists with digestion, skin formation as well as nerve functions within our bodies.
- Vitamin A is an essential vitamin needed for growth and development, cell recognition, vision, immune function, as well as for reproduction, (where would we be without vitamin A).
Where to eat Trout in Serbia.
Most trout farms in Serbia also have on site restaurants and each of these has their special way of preparing and cooking this delicate fish. Some trout farms also have on-site facilities for smoking and the wood they tend to use is from the European Beech tree.
Beech wood is suitable for smoking meat, fish, vegetables and even nuts and cheeses. Beech wood is neutral in taste and therefore suitable for smoking any type of food. There are plenty of Beech trees to be found all over Serbia and all over the western Balkan so more often than not food is smoked using beech wood.
There are many places in Serbia that have trout on their menus. Some restaurants buy in frozen trout, others will serve you only freshly caught trout. There are few restaurants that will offer trout farmed and caught on the premises. The few that are worth an absolute visit are; Restaurant Pećinar in the hamlet of Ljubiš near Zlatibor, Kafana Ljubis in Zlatibor and Restaurant Potpecka Pecina in Zlakusa (near Užice).
Restaurant Pećinar and Kafana Ljubis
Both places belong to the same family. Restaurant Pećinar is located in the village of Ljubiš at a distance of about 25Km from the town of Zlatibor in Western Serbia. This is also where they operate their trout farm and where they smoke trout. Recently, the family that owns and runs the restaurant in Ljubiš opened the other one, Kafana Ljubis in Zlatibor town itself.
So, to un-confuse you; Restaurant Pećinar is in the village of Ljubis, while kafana Ljubis is in the town of Zlatibor but both are run by the same family and both feature the same menu as well as trout from the same farm. Phewww! 🙂
If you have never been to Zlatibor then the drive to the hamlet of Ljubiš is definitely a worthwhile trip to take.
The nature, through which the road takes you, is stunning with forests and grassy plains. You’ll drive through small villages and sometimes you may be lucky enough to encounter some of the local wildlife that may include the odd wolf, fox, wild boar, deer, rabbit, badger, squirrel, mink, marten, otter or wild cat.
The forests around Zlatibor are rich with wild berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. There are also many wild mushrooms to be found and some of the edible varieties include ‘sunstroke’, the pine mushroom and the much prized Chanterelle.
Once you find yourself in the area it is also worth your while to do some sightseeing. For instance you could visit the famous waterfall at Gostilje, the caves at Stopica and the traditional ethnic Village of Sirogojno.
Both restaurants offer excellent food and value and are decorated to a high standard with comfortable seats and large tables. The service is excellent in both places with waiters dressed in traditional ‘black & whites’. But don’t let that put you off by thinking that this makes service in these restaurants snobbish or stiff. Not at all. In fact the opposite is true. The staff are friendly and attentive and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, yet proper.
You’ll find that Kafana Pećinar has an extensive menu with many tasty Serbian and Balkan dishes on offer. The must-try specialities are: Veal cooked to perfection a la Sač ( a type of clay vessel with lid), a variety of smoked meats (including excellent prosciutto), local cheeses and Kajmak for which the Zlatibor region is most famous. Please also try the ‘paprike u pavlaci’, a slightly spicy yellow pepper variety stuffed with thick cream. Finally don’t forget to order a plate of their homemade preserved mixed vegetables which the locals call; ‘tursi’ and make sure to order a healthy portion of freshly baked corn bread.
The stars on the menu are without doubt both the fresh-as well as the smoked trout. Smoked trout is served warm in fillets while the fresh trout is slowly pan fried, then served whole with an oil, garlic and parsley dressing (on the side).
How to get to Kafana Pećinar in Ljubiš.
Coordinates for your satellite navigation:
43º37’03.3” N 19º51’15.2” E (about 25Km from Zlatibor)
Telephone: +381 (0) 31 3801170
How to get to kafana Ljubis in Zlatibor
Address: Zlatibor, (town center)
Coordinates for your satellite navigation:
Telephone: +381 (0)
Fish Restaurant ‘Pecina’
Is the other restaurant which I can highly recommend. Just as at Kafana Pećinar, fish restaurant Pecina (simply meaning ‘cave’) acts as both a trout farm as well as a simple but excellent restaurant. (Please watch the video below)
Both Kafana Pećinar and Restaurant Pecina are similar in name only. They may offer similar fare. While Kafana Pećinar is located in the town centre of Zlatibor, Restaurant Pecina is about 35 Km away from Zlatibor.
The exact location of Kafana Pećinar is at the entrance of the Potpeće Cave near the village of Zlakusa which itself lies about 15Km from the town of Užice or about 35 Km from Zlatibor.
You may have noticed that in my recipes and in some of my blogs, including this one, I often mention the word ‘Sač’. The village of Zlakusa is, coincidentally, one of the most famous places in the Balkan for producing these clay vessels which are perfect for slow cooking your food, wether that may be meat, fish or vegetables. Anything can be cooked per Sač.
The Potpeće cave
The Potpeće cave is the source of a tiny river which flows downstream from with in the cave itself. Its because of this tiny river and the clean and clear cool waters it touts that quite a few other restaurants made a name for themselves by having trout on the menu. However, none are as charming and original as Restaurant Pecina.
Restaurant Pecina has a lovely, manicured garden of which the owner is extremely proud and so he should be. My favourite time is early spring. This is because from spring onward it is possible to sit outside, next to the ponds that hold the trout. Should you be lucky enough to get yourself a table next to the garden, which is adorned with a pretty lawn, many plants & flowers and a beautiful cherry blossom you can overlook the grounds with exquisite views of the massive cave entrance (about 60 meters high and 40 meters wide!). The setting is simply put; pure delight!
The food on Restaurant Pecina’s menu is uncomplicated and offers rainbow trout as their signature dish.
The cooking method they use is to cover the whole fish in course ground corn flour, then slowly pan fry the fish till the skin has become crisp. Traditionally, as they do all over Serbia, the trout is served with a mixture of oil, garlic and fresh parsley. Personally I believe that the oily mixture is overpowering and spoils the delicate, nutty flavour of the trout itself. But, by all means, try. You may like it, you may not. At least you’ll be an experience richer.
Apart from trout Restaurant Pecina doesn’t offer much else except for salad and potatoes. One thing I urge you to try though is their wonderful strudels or as they say in the Balkan pita. There are two types on offer; Apple or Plumb. They are both delicious so I say, try both.
How to get there:
Coordinates for your satellite navigation:
Telephone: +381 (0)31- 546737
It is recommended to book in advance. Enjoy!