3.305 Hungarian Beef Goulash


5 (Mon) November 2012

Beef Goulash


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ

Project 30/30/30: 5 of 45 (see also 45/45/45)

Throughout this November, I am challenging myself to eat 30 dishes from 30 countries over the course of 30 consecutive days.

Hungary is the 5th country.

Hungary wasn’t on the original list that I’d envisioned for this project.  Even when Number One Swedish Fan GK had suggested the country in a comment under the first post (see 3.301 Puff-Puff & Beans), I didn’t consider it very seriously because I was unaware of any Hungarian restaurants in Korea and my experience with the cuisine was limited to a scoop of goulash from a buffet in Manila a couple years ago (see 2.120 Pork Goulash), which wasn’t much to go on.  But then, I had a big chunk of top-grade brisket that I’d used to make stock for IZ’s porridges, leaving behind the meat itself, which he’s not ready for.  Looking through some of my generic cookbooks for ideas, I came across a recipe for goulash.  And I just happened to have all the other necessary ingredients in the fridge – like, exactly half of a red bell pepper – begging to be used.  So it was settled.

Goulash is a Hungarian dish.  Other than beef, nobody seems to agree on what else the stew should contain.  One issue that comes up a lot is whether tomatoes should be included, purists contending that it’s an exclusively paprika-based dish, while others argue that some tomato or tomato paste tends to enhance all the other flavors, including the paprika.  As the name of the dish derives from “gulyas,” the Hungarian term for “herdsmen,” in reference to its origins as a stew prepared on the plains by ranchers, who likely wouldn’t have had tomatoes or tomato paste at their disposal, I’m inclined to side with the purists.

That said, I didn’t take the purist approach.  I added tomatoes and tomato paste, simply because I had some.  I also included potatoes and mushrooms, as well as the red bell pepper, along with a dollop of yogurt at the very end.  Ultimately, not surprisingly, it tasted like a creamy tomato-potato-mushroom-red bell pepper stew.  It was very different from that first goulash, which had been darker and peppery.  I’m not sure which one I prefer.  I served the goulash with garlic bread. The beef itself was so sublimely tender that W took one bite and then another for reconfirmation and then declared “4.0” on that factor alone.  Thanks, but not quite.  Still, I think that my subsequent beef stews will all be something like this.


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