Best of Czech Food: Snacks, Meals and Desserts
Czech food is not the paragon of healthy lifestyle but these ten Czech dishes are a must-try! Two pub snacks that you either like or loathe, but still worth ordering once. The classic Czech food is pork knuckle, but only for hungry carnivores as the portion is huge. Vegetarians need not complain as ovocné knedlíky are simply delicious. These are dumplings filled with fruits. Although this dish features on the menu as a desert, the connoisseur eats them for lunch instead of a savoury meal.
Best Czech Food: Beer Snacks
1. Nakládaný Hermelín – pickled hermelin cheese
Nakládaný hermelín is a classic Czech pub snack. Hermelín resembles French camembert and has an edible crust. The cheese is marinated in vegetable oil, peppers, garlic, herbs and spicy chili for a few days. The snack is served with peppers, vegetable or olive oil, onions and Czech bread.
2. Utopenci – drowned men
Utopenci is also a pub snack. It is eaten cold and is a pork sausage marinated in spicy vinegar enriched with onion, black pepper, bay leaf and other spices. This snack is served with bread. The name is dark Czech humor and translates as ‘drowned men’ and refers to the inventor of the dish, a pub owner who died suddenly. It is not known whether this was before or after eating the snack.
Best Czech Food: Meat Dishes
4. Koleno – pork knee
Koleno, short for pečené vepřové koleno, is roast pork knee, a dish originally from German cuisine. It’s a huge hunk of meat served on a cutting board. Under the crispy skin is juicy tender pork. The secret is that the meat is marinated in dark beer and spices, then grilled and served with the bone. The side dishes are usually pickles and pickled vegetables, dark Czech bread, mustard and horseradish sauce. When ordering this you have to be patient because preparation takes about 45 minutes.
3. Svíčková na smetaně – sirloin steak with whipped cream
Some Czechs claim that this is the only dish that is truly unique to the Czech Republic and not influenced by German. Austrian or Hungarian cuisines. The sirloin is served in a vegetable sauce made from carrots, celeriac, parsley root and garnished with cranberry sauce, a slice of lemon and whipped cream. The side dish is bread dumplings.
5. Vepřo knedlo zelo – pork, dumplings and sauerkraut
Roast pork served with dumplings and sauerkraut is a classic Czech dish. The sweet and spicy sauerkraut is goes very well with the meat. Bread or potato dumplings accompany this dish and are used to mop up the sauce. Here you will find how to make dumplings.
6. Bramboráky – potato pancake
Golden-yellow potato pancakes are not unique to the Czech Republic, but are also a favorite in Hungary and Austria. The problem with bramboraky is that they are either very tasty or very fatty, there seems to be no in between. Food stalls at markets often have the fatty ones whereas golden-yellow ones are served in restuarants. The ingredients are raw grated potatoes, egg, breadcrumbs or flour and spices to taste and garlic. When filled with sauerkraut and slices of smoked meat, the potato pancake is a meal in itself. They are very easy to make yourself, here is the recipe.
7. Tatarák – tartar
Tatarský biftek is raw ground beef mixed with egg yolks, mustard, onion, salt and pepper and eaten with Worcestershire sauce or ketchup. It is served either premixed or with each of the ingredients separately so that you can mix to taste. Eat it with topinky (fried bread) with garlic. Rub the garlic over the crusty bread; the sharp edges grate it and make it into a garlic spread.
Best Czech Food: Desserts
8. Ovocné knedlíky – dumplings filled with fruits
Ovocné knedlíky, is the probably the most delicious sweet dish from Czech cuisine. The dumplings are filled with seasonal fruit: strawberries, apricots, plums, cherries but sometimes also with fruit jam. They are served with melted butter or cottage cheese and topped with chocolate, cinnamon or icing sugar.
9. Palačinky – pancakes
These thin Czech pancakes are popular and resemble French crepes. They are served rolled up and filled with jam, fruit, cottage cheese, ice cream, whipped cream and sometimes nuts.
Best Czech Beer
10. Pivo – beer
It is impossible to talk about Czech specialties without mentioning beer. The Czech Republic has been synonymous to beer since 1842. This was the year when the brewery in the city of Pilsen began to make bottom-fermented lager. Pilsner Urquell is now available worldwide. Most Czechs are convinced that this is the best beer in the world. These days more and more microbreweries pop up in Prague and each brewing their own of beer with a distinct flavour. It’s worth trying a few.
Photos Wiki Commons