Monday, October 15, 2012

Hungarian-Style Goulash

We harvested a lot of assorted heirloom tomatoes and Marconi Italian peppers last week (last crop of the season), and I had to think of way to use them up. Hungarian Goulash seemed like a good candidate. Hungarian goulash is basically an Eastern European beef stew whose base ingredients include beef, lots of onions, and a generous amount of Hungarian paprika. It's typically served over egg noodles, spaetzle or egg dumplings (I found an egg white cholesterol free dried noodle at the market and decided to use those). The Asian in me thinks this would also be really really good over steamed rice. I adapted this recipe from several I found online, including,, and The recipe for the cucumbers was adapted from Food Network: Really hearty and tastes even better the next day. Thanks to Orsi, who commented on this post (she's Hungarian), I stand corrected that tomatoes (and perhaps even the potatoes and carrots) are not the norm in a traditional goulash. So I've since renamed the recipe "Hungarian-Style Goulash." It's still delish, but one of these days, I must try a more authentic version! 


4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 slice thick bacon, diced (optional)
4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 lbs. beef chuck, cubed (or use beef stew meat)
1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
2 tsp. dried marjoram or 1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. caraway seed
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 medium carrots, peeled & diced
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & diced
3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
4-6 Italian/Marconi peppers, seeded & diced (can substitute with 1-2 bell peppers)

8-oz. bag of dried egg noodles or dumplings

Cucumber Salad:
2 hothouse cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 tsp. salt
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried dill or 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Sour Cream
Fresh parsley and/or dill for garnish

1. Heat 4 tbsp. of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes, covered, until soft and translucent. Do not brown. For extra flavor, you can also brown 1 slice of thick-cut bacon, chopped, in the oil before adding the onion.

2. Bring the heat up to high, then add the beef, salt & pepper. Saute for several minutes until lightly browned. 

3. Stir in paprika, marjoram (or oregano), caraway seed, sugar and garlic.

4. Add carrots, tomatoes, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover & simmer for 1 hour or until beef is really tender.

5. In the meantime, prepare the cucumber salad. Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 2 tsp. of salt. Let sit 30 minutes to extract as much water as possible from the cucumbers, then squeeze or blot dry with paper towels. Combine the cucumbers with the remaining ingredients and let marinate in the frig for at least 1 hour before serving.

6. Add potatoes and peppers to the stew and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes. 

7. Cook the noodles according to package instructions & drain in a colander (do not rinse). Toss with a little olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.

8. To serve: place some of the noodles in a bowl or serving dish. Top with the goulash and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a sprig of fresh dill and/or chopped fresh parsley. Serve the cucumber salad on the side.

Slice the onions thinly.

Diced potatoes and carrots, and minced garlic.

Diced Marconi peppers.

Saute the onions in 4 tbsp. vegetable oil over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes until translucent. Do not brown. For a more robust-tasting stew, you can brown 1 thick-sliced bacon, chopped, in the oil before adding the onions. More calories, but more flavor.

Beef stew meat.

Add the beef, salt & pepper to the onions.

Add the paprika, marjoram, caraway, sugar and garlic. Stir to combine.

Add the carrots, tomatoes, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered for about 1 hour or until beef is really tender.

Caraway seed, black pepper, Hungarian paprika, and dried oregano (I didn't have marjoram, so subbed with the oregano).

Add the potatoes and peppers and cook uncovered for about 30 more minutes.


For the cucumber salad: thinly slice the cucumbers.

Sprinkle with salt and let sit 30 minutes.

Thinly slice the red onion.

Drain the cucumbers and toss with red onion and the vinaigrette. Marinate for at least 1 hour in the frig before serving.

No Yolk Egg Dumplings. A healthier alternative, but if you can't find this in your local market, regular egg noodles will do just fine.

Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain (do not rinse), and toss with a little vegetable oil to keep them from sticking together.

Serve the goulash over hot noodles, topped with a dollop of sour cream & garnished with a sprig of dill or chopped fresh parsley.

Serve the cucumber salad on the side.


  1. Hey there,
    This looks delish, but as a Hungarian I have to tell you this is not a goulash. Goulash is a soup (Gulyásleves) and we don't usually use tomatoes in this dish, although some people cook one whole beef tomato into the soup to enhance the flavour. I came across those recipes you mentioned before and I was really surprised that this is what a goulash means worldwide, since it's just so different from the original concept.
    I love your blog though, especially your Taiwanese recipes, as I lived there for years and I have to confess I miss Taiwanese food so much!
    Greetings from London

  2. Hi Orsi - thanks so very much for your feedback! I really appreciate the edification because I always want to know if a recipe is true to its origins or not. As such, I'm going to rename this recipe "Hungarian-Style Goulash" because that would be appropriate. Do you happen to have a recipe for an authentic rendition of Goulash?

    When I first came to Southern California for college back in 1983, there were very few, if any, Taiwanese restaurants around (things have changed since then), so I had to learn to cook my fav foods from home on my own. I'm glad you enjoy my Taiwanese recipes and will perhaps even have a chance to cook some of them yourself!