Tastes of Hungary
Just took a few weeks off blogging to take a trip to my motherland, Hungary. Hungary is a small country located in Central and Eastern Europe. It was founded in 895, making it over 1100 years old. It’s had it’s ups and downs and was a powerful state in the Middle Ages up until the end of WWI. It’s small size is due to a huge loss of land after WWI, in the Treaty of Trianon (1920). However, Hungary today may be small but it is rich in history and a beautiful part of Europe.
Today, I would like to showcase some of the countries specialties in terms of their cuisine.
Starting with their out-of-this-world soups!
SOUPS OF HUNGARY
(1) Paprika cream soup with seared goose liver: Paprika is definitely the spice of Hungary (first introduced by the Ottomans in the 16th century). It comes from a sweet pepper and gives a nice colour and sweetness to foods. For a twist to the classical paprika, try smoked paprika, or pimenton. This soup is a cream soup base with lots of sweet paprika spice and some seared goose liver for added flavour.
(2) Hungarian Fisherman’s Stew: Hungary is home to lots of freshwater lakes such as Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake. And get this, no motorboats are allowed on the lake (except the ferry) in a means to keep it clean and preserve the aquatic life and maintain the cleanliness of the lake. Hungarian fish stew is made from a fish stock, lots of paprika, peppers, onions and tomatoes and contains fillets of carp or mixed river fish as well as their roe (fish eggs). It can be served with bread or noodles for a complete meal.
3) Hearty Oxtail Soup: Made from oxtail, this clear broth is filled with veggies such as carrots and peas, Hungarian egg noodles called csiga noodles and the best part incredibly tender and flavourful oxtail that you comes right off the bone! And if the broth isn’t spicy enough, ask for a slice or two of Hungarian hot pepper or Eros Pista (red pepper paste – the sriracha of Hungary!).
4) Who says you can’t eat dessert first? This soup is a cream based soup topped with cherries and peaches and a generous portion of whipped cream. It is served cold.
STARTERS & MAINS
1) Goose Liver pate or Foie Gras: Not that I condone the production of foie gras, but Hungary is the second largest producer of foie gras in the world. With production at 1,920 tonnes in 2005, it produces lots of foie gras and it was common to see foie gras featured on many restaurant menus. This plate is the foie gras dish done four ways at the Gundel restaurant, one of the high class restaurants in Budapest, Hungary frequented by Hungarian presidents and prime ministers, with featured guests such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Pope John Paul II, and Queen Elizabeth II.
2) Seared Goose Breast with Bacon and Potatoes
3) Beef Stew and Galushka: We Hungarians make a lot of stews, particularly from beef, but also from veal and pork. In particular, we have a special type of beef, called the grey cattle which is native to Hungary and is known for it’s incredibly high resistance to disease in cattle. The secret to a great flavour? The Hungarians always use lard to cook their meats.
4) Túrós Tészta or Ricotta, Bacon and Cheese Filled Noodles: This dish is definitely a stick to your ribs meal. Imagine egg noodles with ricotta, bacon and sour cream. Delicious, but definitely not a diet dish!
5) Stuffed Cabbage: A delicious dish made with rice or barley, ground beef all stuffed into a cabbage leaf and served in a tomato sauce with sour cream.
6) Balaton Rainbow Trout: I was excited to have a lighter meal in Hungary, so I ordered a rainbow trout, freshly caught from Lake Balaton. Little did I know the Hungarians deep-fry the whole fish, so the end result is a crispy piece of fish that you can eat like a chip it’s that crunchy!
7) Veal Schnitzel: I’m sure you recognize this dish! It is a very thin piece of meat, usually veal, pounded with a mallet to tenderize it and then breaded and deep-fried.
8) Pickled Vegetables: Hungarians loves to pickle everything! And it’s no surprise that they serve pickles or pickled peppers with every meal to counter the heaviness of the main course.
9) Cucumber Salad: This side salad is pickled cucumbers finished with a dollop of sour cream.
And finally… DESSERT
1) Crepes: The Hungarians love their crepes. They serve them stuffed with meat as a main course or stuffed with a walnut stuffing, chocolate sauce and pear liqueur as an extra special dessert!
2) Strudel: These delicious pastries are stuffed with many things from fresh jam to a poppy seed stuffing, they always pack a flavour punch!
3) Somloi Galushka: This is a Hungarian trifle and is made up of three different sponge cakes, pastry cream, raisins, walnuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream!