On a traditional Hungarian table next to the salt and pepper is the shaker, filled with paprika. It is there to add spirit to the meal. This is the third spice, a burst of sweet brightness that enhances even the most modest supper. Just as that first sip of a reserve wine, once one tastes a fine Hungarian paprika, the revelation begins and the palette desires its unique flavor.

Red Fangs is a certified organic product, crafted by the expertise of generations of farmers in the region of Kalocsa, where paprika is called “Red Gold.” It is guaranteed to be the freshest paprika available, a gift of the last harvest, milled to order. The heirloom peppers are hung under the eaves of the houses, allowing the autumn Danube winds to dry them softly. Each pepper is inspected for flaws, assuring perfect quality.

The recipes that use paprika are too numerous to even list , so allow me to share just one or two for now. With a little story…
This dish was her favorite. Sissi, Empress of Austria-Hungary was the most romantic woman of the 19th century. Preferring to ride a horse rather than sit on a throne, she galloped through her adopted Hungarian country-side, secretly and un-escorted, visiting the local estates for a sip of champagne. Wild by nature, she despised the controlled atmosphere of the court at Vienna and helped the Hungarians to negotiate their equality with Austria. She loved the people and she loved their food. After her declaration, chicken paprikas became popular at the most elegant tables of Europe.

Auguste Escoffier, the pivotal chef who established how we eat, course by course, liked chicken paprika so much that he display-cooked it at his pavillion in the Paris World Fair at the turn of the century. Later on it became a classic on the menu at his restaurant, the Ritz.

  • 8 small bone-less, skinless chicken thighs [ free-range is best ]
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • ½ cup good quality chicken stock [ naturally home-made would be better ]
  • 1½ cups crushed tomatoes, fresh when in season, or drained san marziano
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced in lengths (be sure to remove seeds and veins – they are bitter)
  • another red or yellow bell pepper, diced fine
  • some spoonfuls of fat- preferably duck or goose, but olive oil will do
  • dolllops according to taste, of sour cream and a little heavy cream
  • salt
  • 2 tbs sweet paprika, you may add 1-2 tsp hot if you like
Brown thighs in fat, remove. Sautee onions in same pan, add salt, diced bell pepper, stir and scrape till wilted. Add paprika and tomatoes, stir nicely for a minute. Add chicken and stock, let bubble; reduce heat and let simmer 40 minutes. Meanwhile sautee pepper lengths till al dente. Add them 10 minutes or so before meat is tender, then remove some of the sauce into a pan where cream, sour and heavy have been warmed together. Oops! I forgot! Add a good pinch of paprika to brighten and heighten! But do not go overboard – chalkiness can occur… And never, never let the paprika burn, let it see short heat so it can release its flavor oils, but then turn the fire down, or add liquid, or both. Now pour the cream with sauce into the paprikas pan and stir gently.

Traditionally galuska, Hungarian egg noodles are the side. Or use gnocchi or fingerling potatoes to sop up the sauce. A small cucumber salad, sprinkled with paprika is also most appropriate.

A delicate red from western Hungary, like a Kekfrankos would be elevating!

This is the Hungarian equivalent to spaghetti with garlic, pepperoncino, and olive oil: a dish created by poverty or what is always in the pantry. During the last and terrible days of World War II people pooled their lard, paprika, onion and potatoes into the communal cauldron, finding a rare pleasure in this simple, nourishing dish, coziness steaming from the starch, stamina from the alearian, excitement from the Magyar chile.

During the war my aunt Eva lived through constant hunger and weeks in dungeon-like cellars. Years later, safe in her family home in Pest she rejected my offer to cook her roast duck leg with croquettes, requesting instead paprikas krumpli. These are her strict instructions:

  • 3-4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 1 finely diced white onion
  • Stock or simply water
  • 1-2 TBS sweet paprika ½ tsp hot [optional ]

Mince onion very fine and add to pot with fat or olive oil, sautee till golden. Peel and quarter potatoes, throw into pot with salt and paprika. Swirl around for a minute or so , then add stock or water to cover. Lower heat to simmer cover, with lid, and cook about 20 minutes, or till tender. Keep your eye on the liquid, you want it to be nearly absorbed, but too dry, and then again not too saucy – the potatoes should soak up and have just a little left over.

With the introduction of a sausage or hunk of ham it becomes a Brueghlesque feast, alone it is sheer comfort. These paprika-infused taters are a nice side dish as well.

Have a glass of dark beer, or some earthy red wine, perhaps a Kadarka.

In 2 varieties: Sweet or Hot
$12.95 per 2oz Pouch

sweet paprika



hot paprika



And here are two more recipes...with with a hint of conquest.
Once the spice capitol of the world, Venice is known to have exported the new world chile to the Balkans, possibly to Turkey itself. However, La Serenissima never embraced this Mexican pepper in her own cuisine. The India peppercorn remained the constant companion to the creator of her fortunes, salt. Not even through an Arab merchant’s larder, or in the tagine of a misplaced Sephardic house-wife did paprika settle in Venice. This absence has been foiled by my pasta recipe!

  • round Verona radicchio, coarsely chopped, enough to fill a large saucepan
  • good bacon, cut into small cubes to fit one cupped hand, or pancetta
  • 2 pats sweet butter, and 1 TBS light olive oil{ don’t use virgin, it doesn’t heat up properly]
  • 1 cup marinara from San Marziano tomatoes, cooked 10 minutes, not more- you want it to stay bright
  • splash of white wine
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • dollop heavy cream
Sautee pancetta or better still, bacon in oil and butter. (When Italians visit the U.S. for the first time, they fall in love with our bacon, wishing that they could get it back home-so avoid being a food snob, skip buying that pancetta!)

Add radicchio soon after, wilt and allow bacon to turn golden, add paprika and salt; de-glaze with wine, add marinara, bring to a nice roll, add cream. Do the padellare-add 2/3 cooked penne rigate or tagliatelle to the sauce, finishing its cottura[cooking]. If you feel that you need more liquid, add more marinara and cream, but do not over-sauce!. Some grated grans padana or parmigiano, don't go overboard….

A rustic Raboso is suggested, i advise La Montecchia Forzate.

The Szeklers are cousins of the Magyars. Together they rode on mighty horses across the lower steppes, passing the Carpathian mountains into the basin called today- Hungary.

Remaining tribal, they remind modern Hungarians of their pre-European past, when the moon, stars, and trees were worshipped. Attila’s youngest and most fierce son, Csaba, is still invoked by them in their national hymn - leap down from the Milky Way and free us, your many legions following you in their chariots… This goulash is a staple at a Szekler table, especially when the whether is cool and foggy.

  • 2 lbs. grass-fed beef chuck
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 tsp dry roasted caraway seeds
  • 2 jars sieved sauerkraut Bubble’s is good
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 fluid oz. sour cream
  • 1TBS Sweet paprika, 1 TBS hot paprika
  • salt and fresh dill

Slice beef into hefty chunks dredge lightly in flour. Brown on medium heat, using a little good fat[ you know- goose or duck]. if you insist on health, alright, olive oil will do…

Add onions and garlic, sautee till golden. Now is the time for the paprika, caraway seeds. Add 1 cup beef stock,half-way cover, and simmer, till showing signs of tenderness.

Of course add more stock, or water if things look dry.Stir occasionally. Add the kraut, which you previously rinsed and drained, and cook till everything is falling off a fork. Add the sour cream, bring to boil and continue to cook on lower heat for a minute or two. When serving add more sour cream along with freshly chopped dill. A side of rice is fine, also boiled potatoes.

If you really want to go crazy, or more people turned up than you thought, add a large spicy sausage, preferably grilled- or- thick cut fatty bacon, also grilled and scored off its skin.

Please drink a deep red. Look for Bordeaux, or a Hungarian Cabernet Sauvignon - Attila Gere makes a lovely one.

Also available at
Da Flora
701 Columbus Ave (click for map)
San Francisco 94133

Stop in, or call: (415) 981-4664

and at Rialto Mercato
705 Columbus Ave (click for map)
San Francisco 94133

Stop in, or call: (415) 397-1446

You had lunch at the sausage counter of the Great Market Hall!

Was my cousin a witch - Budapest is a large city, how could she spy on my movements? "You have the red fangs!" she laughed. And indeed upon a mirror inspection, I saw the deep scarlet stains on the rims of my lips. This was paprika oozing out of a delectable sausage. I tried to imagine the "kolbasz" without sweet and hot paprika, and nearly cried.

Tired of schlepping kilos of paprika in my suitcase on the return from Hungary, I decided to source the best quality and share with those who do not have the occasion to visit the land of the Magyars on a regular basis.

I must tell you : Hungarian paprika is the best. This is not arrogant nationalism. This is a fact.

Fact two: Not all paprika is equal. Just like wine there is the indifferent bottle appropriate for the undeveloped palate, and the superb vintage waiting to be sipped with reeling pleasure.