Hungarians and Koreans have at least one thing in common: a huge passion for chili pepper. In spite of such an important link I don’t think I have ever heard of Hungarian-Korean fusions dishes. I don’t know how and why I had a crazy idea to incorporate gochujang (Korean chili paste) into the Hungarian Székely Gulyàs, but I have greatly enjoyed this amusing experiment and thought I would share my impressions with you.
Most of you have probably heard about the famous Hungarian Gulyàs. Székely Gulyàs (pronounced “see-cay goo-yash”) looks and tastes different, mainly because it includes sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). I discovered it last year thanks to Zsuzsa ( from Zsuzsa is in the kitchen). I wrote about it last year (here) and have prepared it many times without feeling any need of alterations. The origins of the name are not clear. Some say it comes from an ethnic group called “Székely”, who still lives in the present Romania, others – like Kàroly Gundel, a famous Hungarian cook – say it was named after a writer Jozsef Székely, whom Gundel calls the “godfather” of this stew. Whatever the origins, Székely Gulyàs is worth discovering. It is quick, easy, can be made in advance and even though it’s hearty, it has few calories and almost no fat (if you use lean meat). In short, it’s a perfect one-pot meal for cold winter days and the same could be said about its Koreanised version.
Gochujang, one of the staples of the Korean cuisine, is a sticky hot paste based on chili and soy beans. It has different levels of hotness, but gets never as strong as, say Thai curry paste. Here gochujang, used instead of dried Hungarian paprika, mellowed the flavours and brought a different complexity to the final result. Combining gochujang with European saurekraut seemed weird at first, but on the other hand, gochujang is often added to warm dishes containing kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), so finally the satisfying result of my experiment shouldn’t come as such a big surprise. As a final Korean touch, I have added some toasted sesame seeds and sprinkled the dish with Korean chili pepper. I hope that my Hungarian friends will not be shocked by these bold alterations.
If you don’t feel like “Koreanising” this Hungarian dish, you might want to try the “basic” Székely Gulyàs:
Székely Gulyàs is traditionally served with sour cream, but I find it equally delicious with thick sour milk or Greek yogurt. It was surprisingly good with this Koreanised version.
Like many stews, this one gets at least twice as good when reheated the following day. Actually it improves every time it’s reheated.
Do not throw away the liquid drained from the sauerkraut. You can add it during the cooking process if you feel your dish is not tangy enough. Personally I love my sauerkraut dishes very tangy, so I don’t even drain the liquid most of the time.
Preparation: about 2 hours (but it’s definitely best reheated the following day)
Ingredients (serves 2):
300 g lean pork
1 small onion
1 big garlic clove
300-350 ml sauerkraut (raw, not cooked)
3 tablespoons gochujang (medium hot) or more, depending on your preferences
1-2 tablespoons oil
sour cream or milk
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
Korean dried chili pepper (to sprinkle on top)
Drain the sauerkraut, but don’t throw away the liquid (see the TIP above).
Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
Chop the onion and the garlic.
Fry the onion until soft.
Add the meat and fry it until golden brown.
Take the pan from the heat, add the spices and the garlic, 125 ml (1/2 cup) water.
Lower the heat and simmer the meat covered for one hour.
Take off the lid, add the sauerkraut and some more hot water to cover the whole dish.
Add the gochujang.
Continue to simmer first uncovered, then, after 30 minutes, covered for about 1 hour in total.
Add sesame seeds about 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a splash with sour cream and/or sprinkled with Korean chili pepper. You can let it cool down, refrigerate overnight and serve it reheated the following day. (You can also freeze it).