Hungarian paprika – How to use the red spice

After this time, it becomes easier to chart the development of hungarian paprika. Records kept by pepper growers and old cookbooks both say the same thing: paprika has been used as a spice in Hungary only since the end of the 18th century. Auguste EscofiGer, the famous French chef, was responsible for introducing it to western European cuisine. In 1879 he had the red powder brought from Szeged on the river Tisza to Monte Carlo, where he brought fame and recognition to this “Hungarian spice” in the noble kitchens of the Grand Hotel.

original hungarian paprikaIn order for paprika to retain and develop its qualities in cooked dishes, quite a few points must be observed during preparation.

If using ground paprika in a roux (a mixture of flour and fat), or adding it to onions, first remove the pot from the heat. Do not return the pot to the heat until liquid has been added to the roux or the fat combined with any other ingredients that have a high water content, such as meat, potatoes, etc. This is essential, since paprika has a high sugar content and therefore burns easily. It then takes on an unsightly brown appearance and bitter flavor. Also, bear in mind that the flavor and color are released in hot fat, which is why sprinkling ground paprika over pale-looking dishes may improve their appearance, but does little for their flavor.

If you like to use paprika to add color to a prepared dish, always stir the red powder into a little hot oil, and then add this to the dish. Paprika served separately at the table is not used as a seasoning in Hungary, but as an appetizing garnish – “a feast for the eyes”

Usually, sweet or slightly hot paprika are used, unless the cook knows for certain that the guests enjoy (and suffer no ill effects from) spicy dishes. Alternatively, fresh green or dried hot red pepper pods can be served with the meal. The ground powder can be used freely as a seasoning; most recipes call for teaspoons or tablespoons, rather than pinches. In powdered form, paprika also adds consistency as well as flavor.

Kept in a cool, dark place, paprika retains its flavor for six to eight months. After that, it begins to lose its color and aroma, but can still be used.