Privacy settings

Cookies

To improve functions this website uses cookies.  

Better experience for you

Do you allow us to collect anonymised data on the viewing of our content? We will improve your user experience.

I allow
I don't allow

Higher quality content

Do you allow us to record your activities on Slovenia.info? This would allow us to learn about your interests and offer you interesting features and content about Slovenian tourism that interest you most.

I allow
I don't allow

Don't miss new content

Do you allow us to occasionally offer you advertising content from other websites that best match your interests?

I allow
I don't allow
Close notification, I allow the use of my data for all the purposes listed above.

I allow the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) to record and store anonymised data about my activity on www.tasteslovenia.si, which are used by the STO to provide a better user experience for visitors to the portal in the future. I also confirm that I have been acquainted with my rights related to the personal data provided.

Manager of personal data:
Slovenian Tourist Board, Dimičeva ulica 13, Ljubljana
Phone: +386 1 5898 550
E-mail: info@slovenia.info

I allow the Slovenian Tourist Board to record and store the displays of my received messages and clicks to links in the received messages with the purpose of providing me with the most high-quality and the most interesting contents for my purposes (profiling). I also confirm that I have been acquainted with my rights related to the provided personal data. Because the Slovenian Tourist Board is trying to send contents that are as high-quality as possible and as interesting to recipients as possible, it would like to measure the responses to its sent announcements. To provide better and better-focused notifications and to adjust future messages, it automatically processes, analyses, and profiles personal data, and the users’ level of interest in the announcements provided is assessed.

Manager of personal data:
Slovenian Tourist Board, Dimičeva ulica 13, Ljubljana
Phone no.: +386 1 5898 550
E-mail: info@slovenia.info

I allow the Slovenian Tourist Board to record and store the displays of my received messages and clicks to links in the received messages with the purpose of providing me with advertising contents in which I have previously expressed interest (re-marketing). I also confirm that I have been acquainted with my rights related to the provided personal data. Because the Slovenian Tourist Board is trying to show advertising contents that are as high-quality as possible and as interesting to recipients as possible, it would like to use advertisements to once again notify you concerning topics in which you have previously expressed interest. These settings apply to advertisements that are shown through the services of the company Facebook, including Facebook and Instagram, and also through online applications. If you do not agree with the recording and storing of received messages and clicks on links in the received messages with the purpose of displaying advertising contents on topics in which you have previously expressed interest (re-marketing), the same number of advertisements will still be shown, but you might not find them as interesting.

Manager of personal data:
Slovenian Tourist Board, Dimičeva ulica 13, Ljubljana
Phone no.: +386 1 5898 550
E-mail: info@slovenia.info

On trout and roe from Bohinj

 

Gorenjska. A magical morning begins. Bled basks in the first sunbeams, the country road towards Bohinj is shrouded in mist mysteriously hovering above the meadows.

If you turn from the main road before Bohinjska Bistrica, you will come directly to Nomenj, a settlement that is home to Zupan Fish Farm and its trout. The location is ideal, as trout need a large amount of cold running water. There is no shortage of that here. A stream runs through the forest from under Jazna directly from Pokljuka and Zupan’s trout are its first users. “The natives said that the name Jazna stems from the word jezna (angry). I can believe that, as a calm and innocent stream changes completely during a storm,” says Mitja Zupan, the owner of the fish farm.

fish farmer Mitja Zupan
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Fish farmer Mitja

He grew up with fish and was born into this business. His father owned a fish farm from 1960, then his brother took over. Finally, Mitja was the only one left and took the family business into his own hands. He has three daughters; two teenagers and a seven-year-old, who help him at the fish farm.

Zupan Fish Farm used to be a typical fish farm, one of many in Slovenia. Mitja introduced additional products and services – filleting, smoking trout and trout roe as a speciality. Although he says that their fish farm is small, their products and services are so excellent that they have been noticed by top chefs. “The word on quality goes from mouth to mouth, so chefs come looking for us, we don’t look for them.”

Fish are featured on Zupan’s menu at least once a week and the way they are prepared depends on the cook. Mitja grills them, while thirteen-year-old Neža makes superb trout sushi.

salted trout
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

From indigenous Bohinj to rainbow trout

Four species of trout are bred at the fish farm: brook trout, which can only be found at three Slovenian fish farms, lake trout (an indigenous Slovenian fish that initially populated Lake Bohinj), Danube salmon, and rainbow trout, which is the most widespread at Slovenian fish farms.

Mornings at the fish farm begin with the cleaning of all seven pools in which autumn leaves float peacefully next to trout, followed by feeding. Fish are fed according to their needs. Adult fish are usually fed once a day, while juvenile fish are fed several times. They use controlled food of a Danish manufacturer, whose main ingredients are fish meal and cereals. In this regard, the Danish are among the leaders in Europe, as their field of sustainable development in agriculture, fishing, and fish farming are very advanced.

Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

When Mitja throws food into the water, trout burst from all corners of the pool, snapping up their breakfast. They vivaciously jump out of water, spraying it all around. “Fish are very smart, they notice and react to all of the changes around them. They are used to eating early in the morning or late in the evening. If you feed them at any other time, they are more cautious or not interested at all,” says Mitja about the trout, who have their own biorhythm.

He puts on fishing apparel. Pants and boots in one. Then he puts on braces and gloves and bravely walks into the cold pool of water. He uses a net to catch a fish, takes it into his hand and displays its characteristics: “The rainbow trout has a red stripe from head to tail and when it spawns the stripe takes on rainbow colours. This is why it is called rainbow trout in English.” He slightly tilts the fish, observing the changing red and purple hues.

rainbow trout
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Fine filleting

Mitja takes the trout into the house to a room for fish preparation and filleting. The wall holds a nice collection of knives, each of which is intended for a different job. He picks a knife with a narrow and long blade and starts filleting. He explains that different species of trout differ in the structure, texture and tenderness of the meat. He throws in a tip about how you know that a fish is fresh: “The body of a fish is firm and does not cave in if you press it with your finger, and if you grab it by the tail, it stands upright, as the post-mortem rigidity has not yet subsided.”

In the blink of an eye, the trout is finely filleted and is without any bones. “Many parts of the fish can be used. Almost everything, apart from entrails and intestines. You see, there’s plenty of meat by the head and the fish cheeks are a delicacy.”

filleting the trout
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Reviving ancient traditions

Before smoking, Mitja rubs coarse Piran salt into the trout, partly for flavour although mainly for dehydration. If a smoked fish contains too much water, it goes bad sooner, as bacteria develops in the water. Then he puts it into a cold chamber for a few hours for the water to run off and the fish to dry well.

Unlike other people who smoke fish at a high temperature, which is a lot faster, Mitja cold smokes his fish. Cold smoking with only smoke and without heat is the traditional way of smoking meat.

salting the trout
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Fire the kiln and let wood chips burn for ten minutes, which is enough to reach the ideal temperature and smoke. “The temperature in the oven can be a maximum of twenty-five degrees. It’s best in the winter when it’s minus five outside and around ten inside,” he explains how the kiln works. It sucks the air out of the room into traps where the hot air from the kiln cools it, creating cold smoke. If the airflow is too strong and the temperature too high, the surface of the fish dries too much and becomes stiff. This is also the reason why Mitja suspends production in the summer – because the temperature is too high outside and consequently inside and he does not want to use air conditioning ‘because the air wouldn’t be natural’.

Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

He hangs the trout in the smoking chamber made by a Slovenian craftsman according to his instructions. For smoking, he uses beech trees from Bohinj, and sometimes apple and cherry wood chips, which make the fish taste even better. The main challenge when smoking fish with fruit tree wood is a lack of wood, which is not abundant. Therefore, trout smoked with fruit tree wood chips are more boutique in character.

Smoked trout has a strong flavour and is used as a cold starter with cold cuts, butter and toast or in combination with warm ingredients in filled pasta and risotto.

trout
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Trout roe – steps forward in creativity

The production of caviar was a spontaneous idea. “I was wondering what to do with the roe that is left in the autumn and tried various recipes for trout roe. Then I saw that chef Uroš Štefelin makes dishes with caviar. I told him that he can get better caviar. Caviar made in Slovenia. The next day, I brought him a cup for this to try and he was instantly thrilled.”

Mitja’s trout roe is completely free from additives and made only in a saline solution. “They are used as a decoration, a side dish, a spread to go with bread and butter or you can just eat it with a spoon – roe is not just a fad, it’s extremely healthy, as one spoon of roe contains as many proteins as a whole fish.”

The new thing he is developing is a trout bottarga made from roe that is still in the pouch in the body. The idea stems from the zero waste philosophy (he constantly contemplates how to use all parts of fish). Salty bottarga in the shape of an elongated bar with roe bubbles is used as a spice. Grated on top, it goes perfectly with pasta or rice dishes.

trout roe
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

In haute cuisine

Mitja puts the trout on ice in insulated packaging. Who is it for? Zupan’s trout and products are included in menus by top Slovenian chefs and restaurants, including restaurants with a Michelin star or award: Vila Podvin, Atelje, Strelec Restaurant, TaBar, Vila Planinka, and others.

delivery to Linhart Hotel & Bistro
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

Chef Uroš Štefelin has been cooperating with Mitja for twenty years, be it for dishes in the Michelin-star Vila Podvin or the old town Linhart Hotel & Bistro in the old centre of Radovljica. They have the zero waste philosophy in common, which is why Štefelin uses the whole fish: “I prefer lake trout, because it’s local and has plenty of white meat. Generally, I prepare all species of Mitja’s trout, using all parts – from fillets and cheeks to roe and bones for fish soup or stock,” he explains in the kitchen of the bistro while preparing an autumn dish with rainbow trout marinated in balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and star anise with mayonnaise from fermented porcini mushrooms, pickled cucumber, pickled nasturtium tips, and crumble with seeds. Finally, he pours trout soup over it. It indeed smells of the autumn.

chef uroš štefelin
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

“It’s wonderful that Zupan has other products made from trout that other fish farms do not have. I use trout roe everywhere, in tartar, pasta, soups, etc. As it is rich in salt, it elevates a dish.” When it comes to his favourite dish from trout (or its parts), he chuckles, knowing he will take us by surprise: smoked trout with horseradish sauce and mixed salad. Simple yet delicious.

trout being filleted
Photo: Mitja Kobal, Karata Film

More stories

Tastes of nature below the Jezersko peaks

Welcome to the fairy-tale world of the remote corner of Slovenia, nestled among the high peaks and high-mountain farmsteads spread between the Gorenjska and Koroška regions.

Read more

On the bora wind

Innovative tastes of salt as a boutique touch to every dish.

Read more

“You are splendid, limpid daughter of the heights”

Culinary tails from Posočje and the nature of valley, which is an inspiration for top dishes.

Read more

Taste more.

Learn about the story od Slovenian gastronomy. Discover local culinary and wine specialties.

Read more