Picture this: Croatian rezanci swirling in a bowl of a piping hot chicken soup. Is this the dish from your childhood? The first course of every Sunday lunch?
If so, then you have an amazing Grandma or Mom who is a master of hand-cut soup noodles.
I wonder if you ever watched her knead and cut those wonderfully thin rezanci? I did. Looking at my Grandma's hands as she sliced those sheets of dough used to put me in a trance. The movements of the knife, up and down, appeared meditative. It never occurred to me how much effort home-cut rezanci required.
Until I began making my own batches.
The perfect dough for rezanci
Our Grannies have a peculiar way of teaching us kids how to cook. All the measures are an approximation. Amounts of flour, the time it takes to knead, the thickness of the sheets of dough.
My Grandma never gave me any numbers, as in grams or millilitres. Her measures were tactile. 'Start with 2 eggs and add as much water as needed', she would say. I especially loved her descriptiveness: 'the dough should be neither soft nor hard'.
It took many trials and errors until I pinned down the rezanci recipe. The exact and mathematically precise amounts of the ingredients.
Maybe we, the new generation, are less romantic. But I believe we need that precision to carry on the tradition that our ancestors felt in their bones.
Here's what people say when you ask them for the rezanci recipe.
The general rule of thumb is to use 100 g (3/4 cup) flour per 1 egg. But the weight of the eggs varies. Even the flour can absorb water differently, depending where it has been stored.
This is why my perfect recipe includes a touch of water to reach the perfect ratio of dry and wet ingredients. If you are not experienced in making pasta, please use the kitchen scale.
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The importance of soup noodles
When we say soup (juha) in Croatian, we usually mean clear chicken or beef soup. Essentially, what you get on your pate is a full-bodied stock with rezanci (soup noodles), a few carrots and chopped parsley leaves for decoration.
Rezanci are the heart and soul of every soup. And the best testament to how much we love our soup noodles is the expression zakuhati juhu. This means to bring the soup to a boil so that pasta can cook in it.
Basically, adding pasta to the Croatian soup is the act of animating it. But having such an important role to play, pasta needs to be outstanding.
You can get our signature rezanci za juhu (thin soup noodles) in most shops in Croatia. But no industrial pasta can compete with the homemade and hand-cut one. If anything, imperfectly trimmed rezanci, even slightly on the thick side, signal that they're genuine.
Making and storing rezanci
Rezanci are a true labour of love. They have always been cut by hand. Their name comes from the verb rezati, which means to cut. Hence rezanci are hand-cut noodles.
When we say rezanci we usually mean soup noodles, but the word can also mean other types of noodles. If you hear the word široki rezanci, then think tagliatelle-shaped noodles, usually served with a goulash or paprikash.
The best thing about rezanci is that they keep well. So, even though it takes time to make them, the effort invested in hand-cutting is well worth it. You make a batch and keep delighting your family for weeks or even months to come.
The rezanci that you don't use on the same day can be dried. Keep them in the open air, on a higher place like the top of the fridge. When they dry completely, store them in a paper bag.
And now the recipe.
Croatian soup noodles rezanci recipe
Rezanci - Croatian soup noodles
- 200 g "00" or all-purpose flour ((1 2/3 cups ))
- Handful more flour for dusting
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 whole eggs
- As much water as needed to get to 120 grams (about 1 tbsp water if needed to bring the dough together)
- Sift the flour into a wide bowl and whisk in the salt. Make a well in the middle.
- Whisk the eggs (and water as needed) and pour in the well. Using a fork, begin swirling the wet ingredients, catching small amounts of flour on the edges of the well. Rotate the bowl at the same time.
- When there is no more flour left, switch to your hands and bring the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a clean (not floured) work surface. The dough may feel sticky, but this will change with kneading.
- Set the timer for 12 minutes and begin kneading, with a few tips in mind. Rotate the ball 90 degrees and fold the top part over itself. Then press gently inward, making sure the dough doesn't break on the opposite end. Keep your fingers stretched out and avoid gripping at the dough underneath. Rotate in small increments and fold only a small top part.
- When the timer is up, the dough will feel smoother and softer. Wrap it in cling film (plastic wrap) and leave it to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Unwrap the dough and cut it into two equal pieces. Liberally dust flour underneath and on top of each piece. Thin them out with a rolling pin to about 1 mm (0.03 in), dusting with more flour whenever it sticks.
- Divide each sheet of dough into four strips. Dust them with more flour and leave them to dry out for 15 minutes.
- Stack the sheets on top of each other – they should be floured and dried out enough so you can easily untangle them later. Cut into the stack crosswise, cutting as thin as you want your rezanci to be. Normally you would try for the thinnest possible.
- Spread the rezanci on a floured tray.
- Use them straight away by boiling them for 3-4 minutes in a soup.