A Word About Ingredients used in
June Meyer's Authentic Hungarian Recipes
Web Sites that sell Hungarian
- Hungarians use an amazing amount of Paprika. If you are going to make Hungarian
dishes you must buy imported Paprika. Do not use the paprika in the little jars in
the supermarket. It is not the same quality as imported. Paprika comes in six categories:
exquisite delicate, delicate, noble sweet, semi-sweet, rose, and hot. I usually buy
Szeged brand Paprika "Sweet Delicacy". It is not spicy but has excellent
flavor. If you want fiery hot, then look for paprika labeled "Eros" which
means hot. Any Paprika labeled "Sweet" or "Edesmes" has a lack
- Many of these recipes call for lard. If it is a pastry do not omit lard. It gives
the dough a flakiness and crispness characteristic of a lot of Hungarian pastry.
If a recipe calls for butter, use butter. Do not use margarine. It will not give
the best results and flavor. In frying recipes such as doughnuts, Listys etc. Lard
can stand a much higher temperature than Oil, but never let it get so hot that it
- If a recipe calls 24 egg yolks, use 24 egg yolks, not 12 whole eggs. It will
- Some recipes such as coleslaw, cucumber salad call for oil. I like to use corn
oil or peanut oil rather than olive oil which is too heavy and flavored.
- Hungarians use a lot of vinegar in their foods. Pickled hot peppers, Dill Pickles,
Coleslaws, Cucumber Salads, Tomato Salads, Potato Salads, Potato Soup, all Bean soups,
Lentil soup, sauces such as Dill, Tomato, Calf Liver with Onions and some pastry
doughs. Most Hungarian dishes lend themselves to white vinegar rather than red. Red
vinegar will muddy the color of dishes made with sour cream. You can use a good white
wine vinegar or cider vinegar. I use a Japanese rice wine vinegar. It is delicate
and does not compete with the flavor of slaws, cucumbers, sour creams etc.
- You will notice that Hungarians love to cook with sugar. The Hungarians have
known for generations that a little sugar makes food taste wonderful. You will find
a teaspoon or tablespoon of sugar in Coleslaw, Cucumber Salads, Sauerkraut, Tomato
Soup, Szekely Gulyas, Potato Salad, Tomato Sauce, Dill Sauce and Sour Cream with
Horseradish Sauce, Smoked Butt, and Cabbage Soup and Onion Gravy.
- Hungarian pastries always call for "Lekvar" which is pure puree of
Apricot or Prune cooked with sugar. No fillers, preservatives, artificial color.
This is the preferred filling for cookies and Kipfels. It is easy to make, so do
not buy the canned filling. Lekvar is full of flavor, and a pound of dried fruit
will make a large amount that can be kept in the freezer.
- If you are going to make Poppy Seed Strudel or Moon Strudel, you will have to
find an Imported Food store to get your fresh ground poppy seed by the pound. Do
not buy the little sprinkle bottles in the spice section of the supper market. These
are too little, too expensive and not fresh enough. Ask the Imported Store salesperson
to grind the seeds twice for you. If they cannot grind the seeds for you, you can
grind them yourself in an electric coffee bean grinder. The ground seeds should look
like finely ground black pepper with little particles of black, white and grey visible.
Nothing is worse than poppy seed filling in a strudel that is not ground well. It
has a very disturbing "mouth feel", and has no proper flavor.
- Do not use imitation or low fat sour cream if you want your Hungarian dish to
taste authentic. Hungarians use a lot of sour cream in their everyday dishes and
pastries. A lot of pastry recipes call for some sour cream. Sour cream is usually
added to Gulyas and Paprikas at the end of the cooking process. Sour cream is used
as a topping on Palacintas, Plum Dumplings, crepes, as well as on Cabbage casseroles,
Potato Soup, Cabbage Soup, Tomato Soup.
- If a recipe calls for lemon zest or lemon juice do not substitute dried zest
or juice in a bottle or plastic lemon. In old Hungarian Strudel, or pastry recipes,
you will never find vanilla or other extracts listed in the ingredients. The grated
zest of lemon was usually used to flavor the dough. Often a recipe will call for
the zest and the juice of the lemon to flavor the dough.
- Walnuts and Hazelnuts were the traditional nuts used in Hungarian pastries. Nusse
Strudel would not be right if made with anything but ground walnuts.
- The dumpling, pastry and strudel recipes call for all purpose flour. Do not use
cake flour unless specified.
- A lot of Hungarian recipes call for some bacon. Hungarian bacon is smoked, covered
in Paprika and full of intense flavor. It is usually sold unsliced with the rind
attached. It is also very expensive and found only in imported food shops and some
specialty butcher shops. You can substitute any good thick cut smoked bacon and get
- Hungarians make and eat a lot of sauerkraut. In todays modern world, excellent
sauerkraut can be purchased in most stores. I prefer buying kraut in bottles or in
plastic pouches. Canned kraut often has a metallic taste. The kraut should look fresh,
that is, it should be white or off white, never brown or tan. If you like really
sour sauerkraut, use with out rinsing in water. I like to rinse my sauerkraut under
cold running water and drain before using. If you want creamy kraut, when it is cooking,
add a large raw grated potato to the kraut about 1/2 hour before it is done and tender.
It will make it silky and creamy.
- Cabbage was an important food crop in Hungary. It grew large and stored well.
The Hungarians devised many recipes using fresh cabbage. It was never just boiled
in water, but rather sauteed in butter or bacon fat, mixed with meat or vegetables
or fruit, covered in sour cream or tomatoes. It can have an amazingly delicate and
nutty flavor. There is even a Cabbage Strudel.
- Tomato is an important ingredient in Hungarian cooking. When you cook dishes
that call for tomatoes, you can use canned ones instead of fresh. Most of us cannot
get good homegrown tomatoes and it is preferred to use good canned ones instead of
the tastless ones in the SUPER MARKET. I use canned crushed tomatoes for Tomato Soup,
Tomato Sauce, Szekely Gulyas. Hungarian Chicken Soup alway has a small whole unpeeled
tomato in it to give the soup a "blush".
Note: Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage or Sorma NEVER has tomato in it, nor does authentic
- Hungarians cook with many spices and Herbs that give their dishes subtle but
- Always use fresh dill or fresh dill that you have frozen for recipes calling
for dill. Do not use dried dill. You will not get any flavor.
- Three or four are used in Potato Soup. Do not omit. I also use bay leaves in
Szeged Gulyas, Stuffed Green Pepper, Sorma, sauerkraut.
- Two or three whole cloves are always stuck into a whole onion for Beef Soup and
Chicken Soup. Two or three whole cloves are always included in Lentil Soup, Smoked
Butt, Cabbage Soup and Split Pea Soup.
- A few whole black peppercorns are added to all soups, sauerkraut, Stuffed Green
- An important spice for Chicken Soup and other chicken dishes.
- Some sauerkraut dishes will call for caraway seed. It is important in Roast Pork
with Sauerkraut and Onion Gravy dish. Do not omit in this dish.
- Several heads of dried dill seed and dried dill stalk is necessary for the dill
flavor of Dill Sun Pickles. Do not omit. Do not use fresh dill for pickling.
- When a recipe calls for chopped parsley, use the fresh Italian flat leaf parsley.
It has a finer flavor. I chop the parsley leaves in my Cuisinart and store in a jar
in the freezer. The Parsley Poultry Stuffing uses several cups of parsley. Never
subsitute dry for fresh.
- An indespensible ingredient in any Hungarian Split Pea Soup, Beef or Chicken
Soup. Use the cleaned parsley root whole along with the attached parsley leaves.
- Along with Parsley root, Parsnip root is indespensible for making a good Pea,
Beef or Chicken Soup. Parsnip can be a little woody so use the root whole for its
- If garlic is called for please use fresh garlic not the minced kind in a jar.
Garlic is cheap and the flavor is better if it is minced just before you use it.
- Celery is always used ribs whole in Beef Soup and Chicken Soup. It is alway chopped
or sliced for Bean soup, Pea Soup and Lentil Soup. Slice thinly for Potato Salads
and Tomato Salads.
- The main flavor in Hungarian Sausage along with garlic and paprika.
- I prefer unpeeled yellow onions for Beef and Chicken Soup because the peel imparts
nice gold color to the soup. White or yellow onions can be used for most recipes
requiring chopped onions.
- You can usually find a butcher shop that specializes in German or Hungarian sausages.
They usually make a Hungarian fresh and smoked sausage. Hungarian Sausage is made
from pork shoulder, paprika, garlic, allspice, salt and pepper. Fresh Hungarian Sausage
is cooked in water first, and then fried when the water has evaporated. It becomes
a dark Mahogany color from all the paprika.
- Fresh sausage is slowly smoked until most of the moisture is removed. Smoked
sausage is always more expensive per pound than fresh because so much weight is lost
in smoking. It is used in Potato Soup, Sauerkraut dishes, Bean Soups, Cabbage dishes,
Sauerkraut, where ever a good smokey flavor is wanted. A little goes a long way.
- I think the best potato for Hungarian dishes is the Red or New Potato. It holds
together well in Gulyas and Potato Soups, it mashes well for potato dumpling dough.
Sites that sell Hungarian Ingredients & Utensils
Otto's Hungarian Import Store
Fine Foods and Products from all over Europe and Hungary.
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• Updated 09/09/2019