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Slovenia recipe quest—Frika

We did a Slovenia hiking trip with REI Adventures in September. One of the lunches was at a small family-run restaurant in a village above the town of Kobarid. The menu was pre-set, with platters of game meat and polenta, together with a large round cheesy tart thing for the vegetarians. This was delicious! I asked our guide what it was, and she said “Frika”, which she explained was “fried cheese”. But it wasRich or greasy or rubbery like most melted cheese; the texture was lighter, almost like cheesecake, it with a tart flavor.

I have found Frika recipes online, it all involve slices of potato and maybe onion, with cheese put on top, then turned over. This was nothing like that—

Posted by
470 posts

Frika will invariably involve some sort of hard mountain cheese - in the Soca Valley, it will usually be Tolmin cheese, across the border in Friuli it will be Montasio, as far as I know.

The basic recipe is to sauté thin potato slices on lard (oil if you're vegetarian), preferably in a very hot cast-iron skillet until they get a consistency that is somewhat between chips and fries and then add cheese. You want to avoid mashing the potatoes and the skillet should be hot enough to for the frika to develop a nice golden crust.

However, there are many variations. Although I'm not aware of it being a common ingredient in that region, I've come across recipes that include zaseka, which is a sort of terrine of minced bacon and spices (not applicable in your case, hopefully). According to Janez Bogataj, an ethnographer and probably the expert on all things Slovene, there are many different recipes in the area around Kobarid, varying from village to village and from family to family. In Volarje, potatoes are substituted with eggs; in Poljubinj, eggs are added with the potatoes; some add onions as you've mentioned and in Kobarid proper they would add strong, salted skuta (quark). There are also some recipes involving local greens and herbs, although others would consider anything green in a frika heresy.

You could try out one of these variations but if you want the exact recipe, you can always email the family. I'm sure they will be happy to help you out. If they provide you with a recipe in Slovenian, feel free to PM me for the translation. Heck, if it was as good as you say I just might want to keep a copy for myself. ;)

Posted by
12538 posts

Thank you so much, Dejan. I am pretty sure this Frika had no potatoes, and I am sure there was no onion. The the quark idea is possible—

Posted by
470 posts

Here you go, Lola: The necessary ingredients are 400 grams of potatoes, 50 grams of lard or pancetta cubes, 4 eggs and 600 grams of cheese. The instructions are as follows: cut the potatoes into very thin slices, add seasoning and sauté on the lard or pancetta. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add cheese, cubed or grated. Add the mixture to the potatoes, continue cooking until the bottom turns golden and the egg mixture has solidified and then flip to cook the other side until done.

Posted by
12538 posts

Perfect! Thank you so much. I will get others will try this too ( but most of us in the US will use butter or oil rather than lard as the cooking fat).

Posted by
470 posts

You're welcome. Regarding the lard, most city-dwelling Slovenes (including me!) would use butter or oil instead of lard as well, but it never tastes quite the same. Little details like that make home-cooked food in the countryside taste so good. Dober tek!