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The Hungarian Kitchen, Condiment Edition

The Hungarian Kitchen, Condiment Edition
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  • The Hungarian Kitchen, Condiment Edition

    Post #1 - January 24th, 2021, 4:31 pm
    Post #1 - January 24th, 2021, 4:31 pm Post #1 - January 24th, 2021, 4:31 pm
    It's been awhile since I posted one of these, but this one's a pretty easy one, called Erős Pista ("Strong Steve".) It's an absolutely straightforward and ubiquitous condiment in Hungary for stews and soups, reminiscent of sambal oelek. I was reminded of it a few weeks ago as red jalapeños have been selling at a buck a pound, and I have run out of my official Univer-brand Erős Pista (which can be found at Bende in Vernon Hills).

    As I've mentioned before, while Hungary has a reputation for spicy food, for the most part, the cuisine is actually quite mild. Heat tends to be added at the table in the form of crushed, dried peppers or this particular pepper paste. There is also a non-spicy counterpart called Édes Anna, or "sweet Anna."

    Here they are, side by side:
    Image

    Looking up various Hungarian recipes and videos, they seemed to converge on 80% peppers. 20% salt. That's it. The commercial version has less salt -- about 12%, but it also contains citric acid and potassium sorbate to preserve, as well as xantham gum to thicken.

    The main difference in recipes I've been able to find is the types of peppers used. Many use a mix of sweet red peppers (like the local variety known as pritamin paprika) and spicy red peppers to temper the heat. Some only use spicy peppers. That is up to you.

    I started with 830 grams of red jalapeño peppers, trimmed:
    Image

    Traditionally, the peppers are run through a grinder, but a food processor works fine:
    Image

    Add 20% salt (166 grams in our case):
    Image

    Grind until there are no big pieces of peppers left:
    Image
    Image

    Jar:
    Image

    You can use this right away to spice up your soups and stews, but the flavor does change over time and I've found it really needs about a week to two before it starts tasting like Erős Pista and loses some of that raw pepper flavor.

    For a condiment so simple, it really is one of my favorites when you just want to add heat and spice to something. Plus I use it in stir fries, sometimes for curry pastes, chili, anywhere I would need chili peppers. No goulash soup is complete for me without this stuff.
    Last edited by Binko on January 26th, 2021, 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - January 24th, 2021, 9:27 pm
    Post #2 - January 24th, 2021, 9:27 pm Post #2 - January 24th, 2021, 9:27 pm
    Very cool. I don't recall ever seeing anything like this with 20% salt. That's wild. This is right up my alley. Does it ferment or, is there a fermented version?

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - January 24th, 2021, 10:30 pm
    Post #3 - January 24th, 2021, 10:30 pm Post #3 - January 24th, 2021, 10:30 pm
    I don't know if there's a fermented version or not, or whether this ferments. It definitely changes flavor over time, as I noted. It doesn't seem to get a sour taste or funk or anything that would indicate fermentation. I keep it at room temperature, although I don't know whether it's definitely food safe like that. I assume so, given the high salt content, but I don't know for certain.

    Some other recipes for this type and other types of paprikakrém ("paprika/pepper cream") do incorporate citric acid and a lower salt content. For example this recipe (in Hungarian) is 12% salt (like the commercial product) and 1 coffee spoon (less than a teaspoon) citric acid for 1.7 kg of peppers. This one here is straight salt, 17%. I know I've also seen one calling for sodium benzoate that took the salt content down to around 5%. But the straight salt recipes tend to be in the 20% ballpark. And I like them fine right around there -- they taste "right" to me, despite being almost twice as salty as the commercial version.

    It should be noted there are various versions of this basic concept in Hungary. Some are cooked, some are not; some have additional flavors like garlic or celery leaves in them. Some are pureed very finely, some are coarse, etc. I'm trying to go for the style of the popular Erős Pista, a condiment that's found in many, if not most (my guess) Hungarian kitchens. It is the second most popular red pepper product after Piros Arany ("red gold"), also sold by Univer. That one is a fine paste (comes both in sweet and hot varieties) sold in toothpaste type packaging that basically can substitute for dry paprika spice in recipes. It's similar to Turkish pepper pastes I've seen here.
    Last edited by Binko on January 26th, 2021, 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #4 - January 25th, 2021, 5:16 pm
    Post #4 - January 25th, 2021, 5:16 pm Post #4 - January 25th, 2021, 5:16 pm
    Binko wrote:I don't know if there's a fermented version or not, or whether this ferments. It definitely changes flavor over time, as I noted. It doesn't seem to get a sour taste or funk or anything that would indicate fermentation. I keep it at room temperature, although I don't know whether it's definitely food safe like that. I assume so, given the high salt content, but I don't know for certain.

    Some other recipes for this type and other types of paprikakrém ("paprika/pepper cream") do incorporate citric acid and a lower salt content. For example this recipe (in Hungarian) is 12% salt (like the commercial product) and 1 coffee spoon (less than a teaspoon) citric acid for 1.7 kg of peppers. This one here is straight salt, 17%. I know I've also seen one calling for sodium benzoate that took the salt content down to around 5%. But the straight salt recipes tend to be in the 20% ballpark. And I like them fine right around there -- they taste "right" to me, despite being almost twice as salty as the commercial version.

    It should be noted there are various versions of this basic concept in Hungary. Some are cooked, some are not; some have additional flavors like garlic or celery leaves in them. Some are pureed very finely, some are coarse, etc. I'm trying to go for the style of the popular Erős Pista, a condiment that's found in many, if not most (my guess) Hungarian kitchens. It is the second most popular red pepper product after Piros Arany ("red gold"), also sold by Unilever. That one is a fine paste (comes both in sweet and hot varieties) sold in toothpaste type packaging that basically can substitute for dry paprika spice in recipes. It's similar to Turkish pepper pastes I've seen here.

    Okay, cool. I really appreciate the additional info and background on this. I'm definitely going to try this out the next time I get my hands on some worthy peppers.

    And yes, while I'm no food scientist, I suspect that 20% salt probably leaves this pretty safe.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #5 - January 27th, 2021, 9:54 am
    Post #5 - January 27th, 2021, 9:54 am Post #5 - January 27th, 2021, 9:54 am
    Hey, Binko, I'm thinking of buying some of these Univer condiments at Bende's store next time I'm near Vernon Hills. Have you been there lately? Their website doesn't list them but they are in the downloadable catalog: Mild and hot Red Gold, Edes Ana and Eros Pista, plus something called Goulash Cream.
  • Post #6 - January 27th, 2021, 2:50 pm
    Post #6 - January 27th, 2021, 2:50 pm Post #6 - January 27th, 2021, 2:50 pm
    I haven't been there in a year, so that's why I ran out of my stock of Eros Pista! :)

    Yes, all those are pretty commonly used in Hungarian kitchens. I never used any of the creams or other paprika products except for the Eros Pista. Goulash cream (and Piros Arany) is something that is often squeezed into goulash, pörkölt, paprikash, etc. for a bit extra flavor. I never used any of those; neither did my girlfriend-at-the-time's mom (where I picked up much of my Hungarian cooking tips from.) This is not to say they aren't popular -- they definitely are.

    I'm trying to remember is Bende stocks almapaprika (pickled "apple" peppers.) Those are my favorite pickled accompaniment to the heavier Hungarian dishes. I'm pretty sure they stock that. And they had a reasonable debreceni sausage there -- those were my favorite Hungarian sausage to cook up.
  • Post #7 - February 6th, 2021, 11:54 am
    Post #7 - February 6th, 2021, 11:54 am Post #7 - February 6th, 2021, 11:54 am
    Well, I made some today. I found red/ripe cerranos (I'm assuming serranos) at H-Mart, so I bought some. Bought more the next day along wih some Fresnos (I thought the Fresnos were a mild pepper, now I find that they are close to a serrano, especially when ripe.) So, 530 grams of cerranos and 200 grams of Fresnos, 146 grams of pickling salt. I put in in a jar that has a few inches of air space above the peppers, so I move it to a smaller jar?

    Also, washing the dishes, I now have burning hands! I may have to make some very mild and mix the two.
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #8 - February 6th, 2021, 5:17 pm
    Post #8 - February 6th, 2021, 5:17 pm Post #8 - February 6th, 2021, 5:17 pm
    I put in in a jar that has a few inches of air space above the peppers, so I move it to a smaller jar?


    I do try to use up all the jar space if I can, but I don't think this should be a major problem.

    I already ended up using up my smaller jar (far right in the picture). We had goulash soup this week, and I even put it in some matzoh ball soup to give it a little kick.

    Just for fun, I made the same recipe with green jalapenos last week -- which I had never tried before. Has a grassier kick to it. I used it in some Indian lentil dish in lieu of fresh green chiles which I didn't have around, and it worked fine. Other than putting them in my soups and stews, the other reason I do this is to have "fresh" peppers around all the time without any other flavors in them to add to dishes. I may have to do a small batch of habanero as well. Might also be fun to do a longer-term experiment with different (but still high) salt levels like 20, 15, 10 and see how the flavors compare in 6 months.
  • Post #9 - February 9th, 2021, 8:38 pm
    Post #9 - February 9th, 2021, 8:38 pm Post #9 - February 9th, 2021, 8:38 pm
    Xexo wrote:I found red/ripe cerranos (I'm assuming serranos) at H-Mart, so I bought some. Bought more the next day along wih some Fresnos (I thought the Fresnos were a mild pepper, now I find that they are close to a serrano, especially when ripe.)


    Can you please say which H-Mart? Encouraged by this post, I went to Super H-Mart at Oakton & Waukegan Rd today. Found no red cerranos or Fresnos. Different H-Mart? I looked in the wrong spots?

    Thanks for any advice.
  • Post #10 - February 9th, 2021, 8:58 pm
    Post #10 - February 9th, 2021, 8:58 pm Post #10 - February 9th, 2021, 8:58 pm
    tjr wrote:
    Xexo wrote:I found red/ripe cerranos (I'm assuming serranos) at H-Mart, so I bought some. Bought more the next day along wih some Fresnos (I thought the Fresnos were a mild pepper, now I find that they are close to a serrano, especially when ripe.)


    Can you please say which H-Mart? Encouraged by this post, I went to Super H-Mart at Oakton & Waukegan Rd today. Found no red cerranos or Fresnos. Different H-Mart? I looked in the wrong spots?

    Thanks for any advice.
    Oh, ah, I'm not sure where "far, far, out of the loop" is, but I'm in Oregon. The H-Mart I went to is in Tigard Oregon on Highway 99W. I suspect that this is much further away from you for a quick trip.
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #11 - February 10th, 2021, 9:40 am
    Post #11 - February 10th, 2021, 9:40 am Post #11 - February 10th, 2021, 9:40 am
    Xexo wrote:Tigard Oregon on Highway 99W. I suspect that this is much further away from you for a quick trip.

    Indeed. Bet there's a lot of nice produce there, though.
  • Post #12 - February 10th, 2021, 10:33 am
    Post #12 - February 10th, 2021, 10:33 am Post #12 - February 10th, 2021, 10:33 am
    Checked out the Gulyaskrem online and it lists tomatoes, onions, cumin and spices (which you'd think would include cumin). In the decades that I lived with my mother she never used cumin in anything. Seems better suited to shakshuka.
  • Post #13 - February 10th, 2021, 11:52 am
    Post #13 - February 10th, 2021, 11:52 am Post #13 - February 10th, 2021, 11:52 am
    spinynorman99 wrote:Checked out the Gulyaskrem online and it lists tomatoes, onions, cumin and spices (which you'd think would include cumin). In the decades that I lived with my mother she never used cumin in anything. Seems better suited to shakshuka.


    That is almost certainly a mistranslation of “kömény.” In Hungarian, caraway is “kömény” and cumin is “római kömény.” So it should be caraway.
  • Post #14 - February 10th, 2021, 12:31 pm
    Post #14 - February 10th, 2021, 12:31 pm Post #14 - February 10th, 2021, 12:31 pm
    Good stuff, Binko! I also have tubes of Piros Arany around, of course!

    There's a simple Hunan pickled chile-garlic sauce that reminds me of yours: it has 100g of fresh chiles, 10g of salt, a bit of chopped garlic, ditto ginger, a pinch of sugar and a Tbs of baijiu or vodka. The chiles are chopped finely rather than pureéd, then everything is mixed together and left to ferment for a week or so before being used. It ages nicely, just like your sauce does, as the fermentation continues to work.

    Thanks for your recipes!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #15 - February 10th, 2021, 12:37 pm
    Post #15 - February 10th, 2021, 12:37 pm Post #15 - February 10th, 2021, 12:37 pm
    Binko, do you think there is some lactic acid fermentation going on in your homemade eros pista? Looking at a few articles, it seems like 20% salt concentration might prevent lactic acid bacteria growth or at very least slow it to a snails pace. But you did say the taste changes over time. I suppose comparing pH after chopping and after several days would give an indication. Do tiny bubbles form in the mixture?
  • Post #16 - February 10th, 2021, 1:56 pm
    Post #16 - February 10th, 2021, 1:56 pm Post #16 - February 10th, 2021, 1:56 pm
    tjr wrote:Binko, do you think there is some lactic acid fermentation going on in your homemade eros pista? Looking at a few articles, it seems like 20% salt concentration might prevent lactic acid bacteria growth or at very least slow it to a snails pace. But you did say the taste changes over time. I suppose comparing pH after chopping and after several days would give an indication. Do tiny bubbles form in the mixture?


    I briefly touched on this before in a response, but I do not get anything that tastes or smells to me of lactic acid fermentation. There are no bubbles. There is no hiss or anything when I open the jar. But the flavor does change from when you jar it to two weeks or so later. I would describe it as changing from a raw pepper (capsicum) flavor to something less raw and more melded with the salt. The hit of flavors is first salt, then red pepper, then heat. The red pepper loses that grassiness or however you would characterize that raw capsicum flavor as it sits in the jar for awhile. Almost as if it were "cooked" by the salt or something.

    So this stuff isn't particularly complex on its own. Maybe wait long enough other things will happen -- but I rarely have an 8 oz jar last more than a month or so in the fall/winter, when I tend to make things (stews and soups) that I put this stuff in. I find it quite handy to have around when I want to add a little pep to things, especially at the table. I cook with no heat for the the family, so it's either red pepper flakes or this red pepper paste to warm me up.
  • Post #17 - February 11th, 2021, 9:11 pm
    Post #17 - February 11th, 2021, 9:11 pm Post #17 - February 11th, 2021, 9:11 pm
    I enjoy this thread. I made the Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe from the Olive Trees and Honey cookbook this week, including the suggested soaked dried mushrooms and fresh dill. It was so delicious and reminded me of how much I enjoy hot paprika.

    Olive Trees and Honey
    Gil Marks
  • Post #18 - February 12th, 2021, 9:23 am
    Post #18 - February 12th, 2021, 9:23 am Post #18 - February 12th, 2021, 9:23 am
    LynnB wrote:I enjoy this thread. I made the Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe from the Olive Trees and Honey cookbook this week, including the suggested soaked dried mushrooms and fresh dill. It was so delicious and reminded me of how much I enjoy hot paprika.

    Olive Trees and Honey
    Gil Marks


    That sounds pretty cool. Might be worth working a post up on Hungarian mushroom soup eventually. The one I'm familiar with just uses fresh mushrooms, carrots, onions, (and some other soup vegetables) sour cream, paprika, and is finished off with parsley, but dill makes sense, too. Oh, and it typically has csipetke (a type of "pinched" noodle) or galuska/spaetzle in it.

    There's another recipe that I quite like that has fresh tarragon and lemon juice. It seems to be a vegetarian (but not vegan, due to the sour cream) spinoff of a tarragon-and-lemon spiked chicken soup that was popular at least in the late 90s. Those I need to do some research on, as the lemon-and-tarragon combination is not one I've ever encountered in my time in Hungary except for these soups.
  • Post #19 - March 14th, 2021, 3:55 pm
    Post #19 - March 14th, 2021, 3:55 pm Post #19 - March 14th, 2021, 3:55 pm
    Binko wrote:Just for fun, I made the same recipe with green jalapenos last week -- which I had never tried before. Has a grassier kick to it. I used it in some Indian lentil dish in lieu of fresh green chiles which I didn't have around, and it worked fine. Other than putting them in my soups and stews, the other reason I do this is to have "fresh" peppers around all the time without any other flavors in them to add to dishes. I may have to do a small batch of habanero as well. Might also be fun to do a longer-term experiment with different (but still high) salt levels like 20, 15, 10 and see how the flavors compare in 6 months.
    I wanted to thank you for this Binko. So easy to make, and I finally used some today. I had some chicken thighs I needed to use, so I made Adobong Manok (Chicken and Mushroom Adobo) a favorite Filipino dish, but I didn't have the jalapeño. I used a tablespoon of my Erős Pista instead. Turned out great.

    I'm going to make some with jalapeños this summer, when I can find some good ones, I hope, to have for this dish. I like the flavor of the jalapeño (in this dish) which the ceranno Erős Pista I made lacks. I may make some others with different peppers, include some Édes Anna.
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #20 - March 14th, 2021, 4:23 pm
    Post #20 - March 14th, 2021, 4:23 pm Post #20 - March 14th, 2021, 4:23 pm
    Cool, glad it worked out. I've been working my way through my jars at a record pace (the small and large jars in my photo are finished; I just opened up the middle-sized one yesterday). I did end up doing a habanero version as well. I did something like 10-12 red habaneros to one sweet red bell pepper, and it turned out quite tasty and useful -- I'm 1/3 of my way through a pint jar of that.

    I also tried a large jar with green jalapeños for when I need green chiles for a recipe. Those are so-so. Good heat, but I'm not sure I'm a fan of the flavor -- it's not bad, but it's just missing something. That "rawness" or "greenness" I was talking about goes away, but there's no fruitiness/sweetness there to really move forward in the flavor.
    While there are exceptions, I guess this goes to show me why hot sauces are typically made from fully ripened chiles.
  • Post #21 - March 15th, 2021, 12:33 pm
    Post #21 - March 15th, 2021, 12:33 pm Post #21 - March 15th, 2021, 12:33 pm
    One of the local stores here in Salem Oregon gets "Hatch" chilis in every year, and then roasts them in their parking lot. Maybe I'll get a bunch of those and use this same technique on them.

    Binko wrote:Cool, glad it worked out. I've been working my way through my jars at a record pace (the small and large jars in my photo are finished; I just opened up the middle-sized one yesterday). I did end up doing a habanero version as well. I did something like 10-12 red habaneros to one sweet red bell pepper, and it turned out quite tasty and useful -- I'm 1/3 of my way through a pint jar of that.

    I also tried a large jar with green jalapeños for when I need green chiles for a recipe. Those are so-so. Good heat, but I'm not sure I'm a fan of the flavor -- it's not bad, but it's just missing something. That "rawness" or "greenness" I was talking about goes away, but there's no fruitiness/sweetness there to really move forward in the flavor.
    While there are exceptions, I guess this goes to show me why hot sauces are typically made from fully ripened chiles.
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln
  • Post #22 - March 15th, 2021, 1:18 pm
    Post #22 - March 15th, 2021, 1:18 pm Post #22 - March 15th, 2021, 1:18 pm
    With Hatch chiles, I freeze them. My guess is it won’t work as well because they’re cooked or partially cooked, but you can give it a whirl and report back.
  • Post #23 - March 15th, 2021, 1:46 pm
    Post #23 - March 15th, 2021, 1:46 pm Post #23 - March 15th, 2021, 1:46 pm
    Thanks, I'll try to remember to report back.

    Binko wrote:With Hatch chiles, I freeze them. My guess is it won’t work as well because they’re cooked or partially cooked, but you can give it a whirl and report back.
    The thing about quotes on the internet is you can not confirm their validity. -- Abraham Lincoln

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