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Last updated on April 4th, 2024 at 03:39 pm

Corfu Cuisine is a delightful fusion of Greek, Italian, and Mediterranean influences. Sample dishes like Pastitsada (spiced meat with pasta), sofrito (veal cooked in white wine), and fresh seafood. Don’t forget to indulge in local specialties like kumquat liqueur and nougat.

Prepare for an unforgettable culinary journey through the rich flavors of Corfu cuisine, where Mediterranean ingredients and local traditions blend to create extraordinary dishes.

One standout is “Sofrito” a tender beef stew bathed in a succulent sauce, its secret in the harmonious mix of garlic, white wine, vinegar, and aromatic spices, a true taste of Corfiot culture.

Equally enticing is “Pastitsada” featuring al dente pasta coated in a flavorful tomato-based sauce with a special blend of spices called “Spetseriko,” along with tender veal pieces, a hearty tribute to Corfu’s culinary heritage.

Seafood lovers must try “Bourdeto” a spicy fish stew bursting with herbs, spices, and plenty of red hot pepper, a must-try for those exploring Corfu’s coastal charms.

And don’t forget Corfu’s signature kumquat liqueur, a sweet and aromatic treat derived from the island’s tangy kumquat fruit, a sip that captures Corfu’s unique character.

Corfu’s cuisine is a journey into tradition and love for food, an exploration of the island’s rich cultural tapestry that promises an unforgettable and delectable experience.

The Corfu Cuisine

What we refer to as Corfu cuisine is the gastronomic tradition that developed in Corfu and the Ionian Islands, constituting a distinct category within Greek cuisine characterized by intricate recipes and delectable Corfu-specific dishes.

The 411 years of Venetian occupation significantly influenced Corfu’s cultural identity across various domains, encompassing both high culture and everyday life.

Consequently, Corfu’s culinary landscape underwent a catalytic transformation under Venetian influence, mirroring the impact on architecture, poetry, literature, and language.

All recipes in Corfiot cuisine trace their origins back to Venice, where they were subsequently adapted to suit local products and the island’s climate.

The Venetian culinary tradition was marked by a reliance on meat, fish, and hunting, featuring a rich blend of spices, pasta, and other intricate flavors. This infusion of Venetian tastes enriched the originally sparse Mediterranean cuisine of the islands, which primarily included fish, oil, wine, and a handful of greens.

The Venetians introduced numerous previously unknown products to Corfu, including tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, coffee, chocolate, sugar, and exotic spices, some of which had been unfamiliar since the early Byzantine era.

Notably, the olive tree, a key component of the Venetian diet, was brought to the island, leading to a shift from vineyards to olive groves. This transition resulted in the production of ample quantities of high-quality olive oil, which was not only integral to Corfiot cuisine but also exported to Venice due to the unsuitable climate for olive cultivation in the latter.

As a result, Venetian cuisine adapted to the newfound abundance of products, especially olive oil, giving rise to the distinct and flavorful Corfiot cuisine we recognize today.

The ingredients of Corfu food

So, Corfu cuisine incorporates many products that arrived on the island in the 20th century. Unfortunately, three local pasta factories, namely the milling-pastry factory of I. Dalietos & Baklis, the Kallivokas factory, and the pastry factory of Zafiropoulos, closed a few decades ago.

While the gastronomy of Corfu can be considered Mediterranean, it boasts distinct peculiarities influenced by Italy. Although Corfu food may share common ingredients, it tends to be spicier and more calorific.

Characteristic of Corfiot cooking is the practice of marinating for several hours and slow cooking over a mild fire, enhancing the variety of flavors. Alongside spices, numerous local herbs such as oregano, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, dill, peppermint, and spearmint are employed.

Until a few years ago, the process of preparing food in homes was time-consuming, resembling a ritual, particularly on Sundays. The main dish of the day was Pastitsada, traditionally made with rooster rather than beef.

In essence, the cuisine of Corfu can be succinctly described as spicy and delicious, catering to those who appreciate robust and intense flavors.

What is Corfu food? – Recipes of Corfu cuisine

The culinary repertoire that constitutes Corfiot cuisine and Corfu food is extensive and tantalizing, featuring a plethora of delightful dishes. Chief among them is Pastitsada, undoubtedly earning the top spot in Corfu’s gastronomic hierarchy. This iconic dish, often regarded as the crown jewel of Corfiot cuisine, is renowned for its rich flavors and cultural significance.

Additionally, Corfu boasts a distinctive array of other renowned dishes, each contributing to the unique tapestry of its culinary heritage. Bourdeto, with its bold and savory fish stew, captures the essence of the region’s maritime influences. This dish, prepared with locally sourced fish and a harmonious blend of spices, reflects the bounty of the Ionian Sea.

Equally revered is Bianco, a delectable fish soup featuring a delicate broth infused with the flavors of fresh seafood. This dish exemplifies Corfu’s commitment to utilizing the finest ingredients available, creating a culinary experience that is both comforting and sophisticated.

Sofrito, another standout in Corfiot cuisine, showcases the island’s culinary prowess with its succulent veal or beef slices delicately cooked in a flavorful white wine sauce. The dish exemplifies the art of slow cooking, allowing the meat to absorb the aromatic essence of the accompanying herbs and spices.

Beyond these flagship dishes, Corfu’s culinary landscape is adorned with an array of other specialties, each bearing the imprint of the island’s unique history and cultural amalgamation. From locally caught seafood prepared with a touch of Italian influence to hearty stews and aromatic herb-infused creations, Corfiot cuisine invites gastronomic exploration and appreciation.

In essence, Corfu’s culinary identity is a celebration of diverse flavors, traditional techniques, and a rich history that has shaped its unique and delicious food culture.

Corfu cuisine: Pastitsada

Corfu cuisine - Pastitsada
Corfu cuisine – Pastitsada

Corfu’s premier recipe for official gatherings and celebratory occasions, Pastitsada held an indispensable place on every Sunday table in households until a few years ago.

This traditional dish is traditionally crafted using rooster, although an alternative preparation with veal meat is also embraced. The rooster or meat undergoes a slow-cooking process in a medley of ingredients, including oil, a distinctive blend of spices known as Spetseriko, onions, and optionally, a hint of garlic. To this flavorful concoction, a touch of wine, cinnamon, laurel, nutmeg, fresh tomato pulp, and a subtle infusion of sugar are added, creating a symphony of tastes.

Served alongside the main dish is a bed of thick pasta, generously topped with grated kefalotyri cheese. This sumptuous pairing enhances the overall gastronomic experience, providing a delightful interplay of textures and flavors.

Pastitsada, with its aromatic profile and hearty composition, remains a symbol of Corfu’s culinary heritage, reflecting the island’s commitment to traditional recipes that have stood the test of time.

Pastitsada recipe

Pastitsio Dolce – A dish from ancient Rome!

Pastitsio Dolce, an exceptionally rare recipe dating back to ancient Rome, is a culinary gem that is challenging, if not impossible, to encounter in contemporary restaurants.

The preparation of this unique dish involves a layering of well-cooked pieces of beef, roe, lamb, pork, and game (typically woodcocks or hatcheries). Additionally, sausages, boiled egg rolls, hams, salad, and corn are artfully arranged over a base of dough. The concoction is then generously adorned with pasta, grated cheese, and dill, all of which are delicately covered with a rich blend of tomato sauce, pepper, sugar, and an additional layer of grated cheese. Another layer of dough crowns the ensemble.

To elevate the complexity of flavors, yet another layer of sauce, pepper, and grated cheese is added over the topmost dough. The result is a sensory feast, boasting a symphony of tastes and textures. However, it’s worth noting that this indulgent dish comes at a caloric cost, exceeding 1000 calories per portion. As previously mentioned, Corfiot cuisine is not tailored for those adhering to a diet, but rather for those seeking an unabashed celebration of rich and diverse flavors.

Wild greens

It once constituted the modest fare of impoverished families; however, today, these wild greens are savored either as a refreshing salad or cooked with a drizzle of oil and a touch of lemon.

Corfu cuisine: Bianco fish

Corfu cuisine - Bianco
Corfu cuisine – Bianco

A kind of fish dish that defies the traditional soup label, as the fish is prepared with garlic, oil, black pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. Notably, in Bianco, onions are omitted from the recipe.
Bianco recipe

Corfu cuisine: Bourdeto fish

Corfu cuisine - Bourdeto
Corfu cuisine – Bourdeto

Another seafood dish features onions cooked with a generous amount of both sweet and hot red pepper, complemented by a finishing touch of lemon. Notably, Bourdeto avoids the use of tomatoes or tomato sauce in its preparation.

The optimal choice of fish for Bourdeto typically leans towards deep-sea varieties, such as scorpions and bass. In the absence of scorpions, yaks, known locally in Corfu as Vopes, serve as a suitable alternative. Additionally, a delightful Bourdeto variation can be crafted using chestnut or dogfish.

Bourdeto recipe

Bourdeto with octopus

An extraordinary dish.

Utilizing the same ingredients found in Bourdeto with fish, this culinary masterpiece features octopus cut into pieces, sautéed meticulously over low heat until it releases its natural juices.

Following this, a blend of oil, pepper, a generously sized onion quartered, and either water or dry white wine is introduced until the octopus is completely submerged. Allowing it to simmer until the liquid evaporates, the dish then welcomes the addition of potato pieces, accompanied by a modest amount of water or white wine.

The dish reaches its pinnacle when it achieves a dry consistency, with the remaining oil imparting a rich flavor. It’s crucial to note that no salt is to be used whatsoever during the cooking process.

Octopus Bourdeto recipe

Poulenta or else Koronia

It is a preparation of boiled cornflour and water, resulting in a creamy consistency reminiscent of a porridge or cream.

Savoro

Savoro is a zesty sauce employed for the brief preservation of fried fish. Its piquant flavor is achieved through a blend of oil, vinegar, garlic, and assorted herbs.

Corfu cuisine: Sofrito with beef

Corfu cuisine - Sofrito
Corfu cuisine – Sofrito

Thin slices of veal are lightly fried and then simmered in a pan with grated garlic, parsley, pepper, white wine (or water as an alternative), and salt. This savory dish can be served with a variety of accompaniments such as French fries, rice, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, or any other preferred side.

Sofrito recipe

Stacophysy (stock-fish)

Derived from English stock-fish, this dish features dry hake sautéed with onions and red pepper, then cooked with tomato and a touch of sugar.

Tsigareli

It is none other than wild greens boiled with chopped onion, garlic, red hot pepper, and salt.

Tsilichourda

Corfu cuisine - Tsilichourda
Corfu cuisine – Tsilichourda

Corfu’s Easter Magiritsa consists of cut lamb intestines cooked with chopped onions, parsley, and dill. It differs from a traditional soup, having a thicker consistency, and is generously seasoned with a drizzle of lemon juice.

Figaddelia

Beef liver slices wrapped with a flavorful blend of garlic, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon.

Corfu cuisine: Sweets and drinks

Sykomaida

Corfu cuisine - Sikomaida
Corfu cuisine – Sikomaida

Corfiot sweet made from dried figs involves soaking the figs in a mixture of ouzo, mastic, sweet wine, and a substantial dose of pepper. Shaped like a large burger, this unique treat is wrapped in walnut leaves, adding to its distinctive flavor profile.

Ginzollas or otherwise Tzitzifa

In reality, it is a tree fruit, red, similar in size to large olives, featuring a distinct pit. Typically consumed in its dried form, this fruit has a unique flavor and texture.

Corfu Bolshevikos

A syrupy sweet in the form of a large melomakarono.

Fogatsa

Corfu cuisine - Fogatsa
Corfu cuisine – Fogatsa

The Easter brioche of Corfu.

Mandolato

Corfu cuisine - Mandolato
Corfu cuisine – Mandolato

The cherished confection of the Venetians, mandolato is crafted from a delightful blend of honey, sugar, and egg whites, resulting in a meringue filled with almonds.

Widely enjoyed across all the Ionian Islands, the hallmark of a good mandolato lies in its firmness— it should be very hard, not pliable but easily breakable. The name itself is derived from the Italian word for almond, “Mantorlato,” as the Italians also refer to it.

Tzaletia (from Italian Giallo = yellow)

Shredded fried dough dumplings coated with sugar and cinnamon, resembling the familiar donuts, but distinctive in that they absorb less oil due to being fried in a shallow pan.

Special local products

Kumquat

Koum Kouat sweet
Koum Kouat sweet

Kumquat is a small mandarin variety originating from China, introduced and flourishing in Corfu since the era of British domination. From this fruit, a highly delectable liqueur is produced, as well as a sweet preserve known as kumquat spoon sweet.

Cheese Corfu

Spicy cheese crafted from cow’s milk, resembling the Italian Pecorino.

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