Sunday, January 3, 2010

back to budapest: hungarian goulash

i used to be a semi-vegetarian. well, okay, i ate all meats except for beef. i still don't eat a lot of beef but i believe i have had about six hamburgers in my lifetime, tried steak, and eaten meat sauce maybe three times. hey, give me some credit...i had a traumatizing dream when i was little that my brother was turned into a cow by a magician and he never turned back into a person! where am i going with this? oh yes. goulash. my first time to cook beef!

let's rewind though. picture yourself having just arrived in budapest, hungary with some friends. you're cold and hungry and after dropping off your bags you decide to wander the streets and find a good warm restaurant. never mind that it is apparently "loot your neighbor's trash" day, where everyone has spread out their, well, junk, and it seems to be for sale. it's dark, and you pass by a strange building where a semi creepy man beckons you to come inside...and down to the dungeon. uh, no thanks creepy man. but you end up coming back by the building, and the man tells you again, come inside...we have warm food. e to the nough. you're tired, so you go inside, down cellar stairs and through, literally, the most legit dungeon you've ever seen. but all of a sudden you see a glow up ahead through the dark and- what's that sound? piano music? and then you eat one of the best soups you've ever had. hungarian goulash.

at least, that's what it was like for me. so i decided to try and recreate the dish for my friends from the same journey!

--> feasting facts - PAPRIKA
paprika is the major spice for most traditional hungarian dishes. there are many varieties, but we only have a basic version available at the supermarket. paprika, which can be a bright reddish or orangeish color, is responsible for not only the taste of the goulash, but the color as well. in europe, paprika flavored potato chips are quite popular!

hungarian goulash
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp paprika
tender beef, cut into cubes
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground caraway seed
2 bayleaves
1/4+ tsp black pepper
1/4+ tsp salt
2 carrots, diced
3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 celery stalks, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, chopped

*note: all of the veggies are variable. if you want to add something, or have more or less of something, do it!

heat oil over medium-low and add onions, until tender. sprinkle with paprika but stir constantly to prevent burning.

add beef cubes and sauté until brown.

add garlic, caraway seed, some salt and pepper, and the bayleaf.

pour in enough water to cover the contents of the pan and let simmer on low heat for a while.

when the meat is half cooked (an hour maybe) add the carrots, potatoes, celery and a little more salt. add a little more water to cover contents (2-3 c.).

when the vegetables and the meat are almost done add tomato and green pepper. cook on low heat for about 7 minutes. add a pinch more paprika.

(removing the lid of the pan thickens the soup)

bring the soup to boil and then let simmer until ready to eat. serves 4-6, depending on how hungry you are!

*this recipe is modified from the budapest travel website. when i decided to make goulash, i figured the best source would be one from the city itself! and indeed, it was pretty darn close to our dungeon goulash. :)

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