Székely Gulyàs with Gochujang, or Koreanised Hungarian Pork and Sauerkraut Stew


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

salt, pepper

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).

35 Replies to “Székely Gulyàs with Gochujang, or Koreanised Hungarian Pork and Sauerkraut Stew”

      1. Hungarians come from Asia too; they did not get as far as Korea… but just think ALL our ancestors used to be dark skinned and African before a few tribes migrated into Asia and from there populating the rest of the world. On a different level I simply LOVE the fusion of cultures and I consider this an honour.

  1. You always have crazy but fun and amazing ideas when it comes to food. LOL. We really enjoy reading about your experiences and your creativity is really inspiring! I’m sure this is not the last time we see Hungarian and Korean fusion food on your blog. 😀

    1. Thank you, Nami, for all these compliments! Now that you said this… I will try to think of another fusion of these two cuisines… It was lots of fun to discover gochujang worked well with this gulyàs.

  2. I bought sauerkraut last year to make Székely Gulyàs because I was inspired by your post. Sadly, I never did get around to making it — mostly because I forgot. Now I’m going to have to give one of these versions a try. I can’t see that I’ve heard much about Hungarian-Korean fusion. I’d say you are a trend-setter Sissi. I love that this dish is even better re-heated the next day. It suits my pattern of making dishes on the weekend to re-heat on busy weeknights!

    1. Barb, you are very kind! I would never think of my self however as a trend-setter 😉 Every time I think I did something original, I find it somewhere on internet later on… I am thrilled to learn I have encouraged you to make Székely Gulyàs! I hope you can make it. It’s really very easy.

  3. Now that I’d truly a unique marriage of cultures but I dare say that the flavours sound like they work. I adore sauerkraut and it can’t be sour enough for me! I’ve never made Székely Gulás before but you have certainly inspired me, as usual. I have left over turkey that I was going to make a curry out of, but instead I’m feeling like a paprikás! And I never put cream in mine either!

    1. Thank you very much, Eva. Székely Gulyàs is a wonderful quick and easy meal (and also very light in my case: I use only lean meat).

    2. Thank you very much, Eva. Székely Gulyàs is a very quick and easy dish (and healthy too!). Good luck with paprikàs! (I do add cream to paprikàs, to be precise sour milk which is like sour cream in thickness but low-fat).

  4. What an interesting fusion of flavours! It looks and sounds like your Hungarian-Korean experiment worked out very well indeed Sissi. At first, I thought that might be Hungarian paprika sprinkled on top (though I’m certainly not one to ever turn down chili pepper ;-)) especially when mixed in with sauerkraut – mmm…. What a unique and delicious looking stew you’ve put together here.

    1. Thanks a lot, Kelly. Both Hungarian and Korean chilis have a bright red colour, so I’m not surprised you thought it was Hungarian!

  5. Oh sugar: this is crazy alright 🙂 ! Just crazy enough to try the fusion, as I cooked ‘fusion’ ere the term was invented!!! Szekely Gulyas was my Hungarian husband’s favourite dish and during our brief marriage I made awfully close friends with it! Now: were this recipe be presented to him, I can hear his loud ‘WHAT!!’, wheras I am more than willing to give the mix a smiling ‘go’ before I go back to my usual Asian-inspired dining . . . Shall tell’ya!

    1. Thank you, Eha. I also thought this idea crazy but risking some sauerkraut and meat paid off. I have heard that Hungarians are not very keen on modifying their traditional cuisine… I wonder what my friend Zsuzsa will say 😉

      1. If my experiences are anything to go by, the answer is a definite ‘no’ 🙂 ! But then, living in the ‘newer lands’ around the globe, the same may be said about a number of European cuisines: there is a ‘right’ way and then the ‘other’. I remember seeing a rather famous TV cooking show about Milanese ++ cooking awhile ago – the locals were trying to shut down a number of new Chinese market gardens, as ‘these strange new ingredients’ would wreck and ruin their traditional dishes . . . I can sort’of see the point, but am glad to do what I do 😀 !

        1. Some people are of course maniac… In France there is a good balance between the traditional vs. new. I know Italians are very fussy about their cuisine, but on the other hand when one sees what happens to their dishes… I think there is a difference between mixing bacon and cream and calling it carbonara vs. adding a new spice or some vegetable to a real carbonara and calling it “modified carbonara”. You know what I mean?

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have just checked: you are right: it’s in certain points similar to kimchi jigae! Finally I wasn’t as crazy as i thought 😉 Székely Gulyàs is quite popular in Hungary I think (all my Hungarian friends know it), but outside of the country… In general few people know that the “basic” beef gulyàs is a soup, not a thick stew, and what is served often as gulyàs is a brown thick stew instead of a bright red aromatic soup.

  6. I visited Hungaria a few times and one thing is for sure, they like their pork as fat as possible and cream and sour cream too. Concerning Székely Gulyàs: the sauerkraut and pork melts together while slowly cooked and results in a tasty and belly warming something – lots of smoked Paprika and caraway seeds involved (caraway seeds are very important to help your stomach to cope with all this fat and sauerkraut)! This is one of my favorite winter dishes with bread dumplings. You creation is very interesting too. Much healthier for sure, cannot wait to give it a try.

    1. Thank you, Kiki. I must say that even though most Hungarians probably cook fatty dishes, all the Hungarians stews and dishes in sauce I have made were always quite light! (And I did them either according to Zsuzsa’s blog or to my Hungarian traditional cookery book). Of course, fat often add taste and makes dishes more delicious… but I think Hungarian cuisine is not necessarily heavy. I like adding caraway seeds or marjoram to pork and/or sauerkraut, but somehow it was difficult to imagine with gochujang.

  7. So interesting this pork dish Sissi…Hungarian and Korean…must taste great…I love sauerkraut…but never had it this way.
    Have a great week and thanks for the recipe!

  8. Oh Yea – that’s what I’m talking about! My mouth is already burning and I’m starting to warm up! I guess us New Mexican have to join the Koreans and Hungarians because we do like our dishes spicy as well! 🙂 What a spicy and delicious stew/dish! I need some right now! I agree with you about Zsuzsa – what a nice person and great food!!! I love visiting her blog!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I’m glad you understand my passion for hot, spicy dishes! At a certain point it becomes an addiction, doesn’t it?

  9. It’s is an addiction! Whenever we travel, the first thing we eat when we get home is something with either red or green chile. 🙂

  10. Sissi what a great idea! You cook with your heart as well as your natural senses and I so admire that about you! This must have been a wonderful dish indeed. Thank you Sissi!

    1. Zsuzsa, your kind words mean so much to me! Thank you very much for the compliments! I’m really happy to learn you approve of my crazy idea. I’m sure you would like gochujang. I regret I cannot invite you for a bowl of this modified gulyàs…

  11. I love fusion food! That’s what food and blogging is all about! I love goulash and I too serve it with Greek yogurt. This Koreanized version is definitely something I would love to try!

    1. Thank you, Katerina. I love Greek yogurt on its own too 😉 but I also add it instead of sour cream to Hungarian dishes.

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