LOL Great thread!!!
BTW! A few weeks ago, my sister sent me a booklet full of veganized recipes of Hungarian classics. If people are interested, I can try to find it and type in a few of the recipes.
Now for something really serious. I really can't emphasize enough the importance of using good Hungarian paprika
. With good quality paprika, you can't ever go wrong.
It's not really rocket science, paprika is not saffron, so you don't have to spend a fortune. But definitely try to get paprika from Hungary. Spanish, Mexican, or American (sorry!) grown paprika simply won't do.
In Hungary you can buy whole dried paprika (paprika=pepper in Hungarian) braids, just like you see garlic braids everywhere. That is of course the ultimate, just taking a few whole dried peppers, crushing them between your fingers directly into the pot. But ground paprika powder out of a tin box works just fine too
There are two types of paprika: sweet and hot. Sweet paprika is the foundation of all Hungarian dishes, and some of it may be replaced with hot paprika if the goal is spicy (and Hungarians like their foods REALLY damned hot, yikes!!).
For sweet paprika, there is a strict grading process. Every harvest and batch is judged and classified according to the taste, color and quality.
The grades are (quality increasing from top to bottom):
édesnemes (sweet and noble)
This last one is the one all cooks should aim for. Though I doubt you can find it easily in the U.S. The best I could find in the U.S. is the brand "Pride of Szeged" (Imported from Szeged, the most famous paprika producing town in Hungary). I can get it in all health food stores around here, even Safeway has it sometimes. I think its grade is 'csemege'. It's really really tasty and not expensive.
Here is a favorite recipe of mine that I used to cook very often. It's very simple and very delicious, and uses a lot of paprika:
Potato Paprikash (Hungarian Potato Stew):
1. Cut a few lbs potatoes into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes (I never peel potatos, but Mom always did).
2. Peel and finely chop a large sweet white onion
3. Heat oil in a pot, add onion and some caraway seeds, and cook onions until glassy.
4. Add potato cubes, and saute them briefly, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes.
5. Fill up the pot with enough water to just cover the potatoes.
6. Add 3 Tbsp paprika per 2 quarts of stew. Yeah it's a lot!
7. Add a few chopped very ripe tomatoes (with peels), and if you have them, a few peppers cut into rings (best to use Hungarian Yellow Peppers
, but bell peppers will do too).
8. Optional: add about 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (the original version uses smoked sausage and adding l. smoke imitates the flavor perfectly!!)
9. Bring to simmer and simmer until potatoes soft (about 15 minutes).
This is incredibly delicious. Also, I found that keeping it in the fridge for 1-2 days even improves the flavor! So leftovers will taste even better!!!) If you like it hot and spicy, replace some of the sweet paprika with hot paprika.