Some of the most interesting and truly exotic foods to come out of Eastern Europe are from Hungary. The typical Hungarian cuisine is defiantly not something you’ll find in very many European cities. Hungarian food has historically been known to include a very heavy hand with spices and herbs. Paprika is one of the most prevalent ingredients in a lot of Hungarian dishes. Some of the most typical Hungarian ingredients include: sour cream, eggs, and beef. Hungary has some of the largest natural cattle herding grounds in all of Eastern Europe. Hungary has no coastline in its borders so fresh seafood is typically not on most menus. However, smoked and cured fish imported from European neighbors are a treasured and expensive delicacy.
The most famous Hungarian recipe that has been dissected and changed countless times from its origins is Goulash. True Hungarian Goulash is comprised of mostly bone in beef parts such as shin, shoulder or shank. The meat is then braised in a mix of paprika, oil and beef stock. The braising can take nearly 8 hours for some Hungarian dishes…but the wait is more than worth it. Typically herbs like Rosemary and Thyme are used heavily in Hungarian Goulash as well. The reason the bones are used so much (other than for flavor of course) is that during the braising process the natural gelatin in the bones will escape and will help to thicken the finished dish without the use of a foreign thickener like flour or cornstarch. Historically this dish was used a lot by game hunters that would start their Goulash in the morning before going out to hunt, and then when they return many hours later, the dish is ready to be eaten.
Hungary puts out some very interesting regional dishes that you typically can’t find anywhere outside of Hungary – far too many than can be included here. Some of these include: Paprika Scsirke (paprika chicken), fish soup, Borjutokáy , a Transylvanian veal stew, and desserts such as deep-fried cherries (Cseresznye Kisutve) and coffee cake (Bába Kalács). In the next few days we will be deconstructing some of these classic Hungarian dishes and posting the recipes here! Stay turned!