|I was completely wowed by my friend Al's famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad!|
My friend Al Church is not only a former restaurant critic and food writer, but he's also one of the most food-savvy people I know, so when Al offered to make his famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad with me and share it with Kalyn's Kitchen readers, I couldn't wait to try the salad. I haven't eaten that much authentic Hungarian food, but it's definitely on my list of places to visit, and I love the combination of sweet paprika and sour cream that's used in so many dishes in that part of the world. And of course my love for cucumbers is well-documented on the blog. I loved everything about this salad, which was almost even better the next morning (when I gobbled up the leftovers for breakfast!) If you have garden cucumbers right now, or even if you need to make a trip to the store for the long English cucumbers we used, you must make this right away!
It's best to use cucumbers with small seeds, and two long English cucumbers were perfect for this. Peel the cucumber, cut in half crosswise, and then score the edges with a fork.
Al sliced the cucumbers with my Zyliss Mandoline on the 3mm blade. Please be VERY CAREFUL when you're using the mandoline (just eat the last bits of the cucumber when your hands start getting close to the blade! (You can also cut the slices with a knife, but the mandoline is quicker and makes more even slices.)
Put the sliced cucumber pieces into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp. fine table salt. Then use your clean hands to toss the cucumbers so they're all covered with salt. Let cucumbers sit to draw out the water for at least 15-20 minutes.
While cucumbers sit, make the dressing. We used my beloved garlic chopper to finely minced two cloves of garlic.
Then mix together the white wine vinegar, paprika, oil, sour cream, garlic, and black pepper to make the dressing. Al recommends authentic Szeged Sweet Paprika, which luckily I had! (You can use other types of mild vinegar, even red wine vinegar that has a good flavor but don't use a sweet vinegar like balsamic.)
Al uses a small plate to press down on the cucumbers and press out as much liquid as you can, or you can also put them in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the liquid. We blotted the cucumbers with a paper towel as well.
Then toss the drained cucumbers with the dressing ingredients. (The salad is best if you can let it sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend before you serve it.)
Thanks Al, I absolutely loved the salad. (Hopefully I can get Al to share a few more Hungarian recipes on the blog!)
(Makes about 6 servings; this recipe is adapted from the traditional recipe in The Art of Hungarian Cooking, which Al says most closely resembles the salad from his grandmother's Hungarian restaurant.)
2 English cucumbers or 3-4 fresh garden cucumbers (cucumbers with small seeds are best for this)
2 tsp. fine table salt (for drawing the water out of the cucumbers)
extra sour cream and paprika, for serving
2 garlic cloves, finely minced (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (any mild vinegar can be used, but don't use a sweet vinegar)
1/2 - 1 tsp. sweet paprika, to taste (Al recommends Szeged Sweet Paprika)
1/4 cup sour cream (full fat sour cream is best for this, but you could use light if you wanted)
2 T olive oil (we used extra virgin; other mild salad oil will work)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Peel the cucumbers, cut in half crosswise so they are easier to hold in your hand, and score the outside of each cucumber by drawing a fork down the side, until all the outside is scored into ridges. Slice cucumber into even, thin slices. (We used my Zyliss Mandoline with the 3mm size blade, but you can also cut the cucumbers with a knife if you don't have a mandoline. Please be VERY CAREFUL when using the mandoline. It's better to eat the end piece of each cucumber than to slice your fingers!)
Put the sliced cucumbers into a bowl and sprinkle with table salt. Use your clean hands to toss cucumbers together so they're all covered with salt, then let cucumbers sit and release their liquid for at least 15-20 minutes.
While cucumbers are sitting, make the dressing. Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic. Whisk together the minced garlic, vinegar, sweet paprika, sour cream, and oil. I would start with 1/2 tsp. of paprika and then taste to see if you want more (we did.) Season the dressing with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
After cucumbers have been sitting for 15-20 minutes to release the liquid, put them into a colander and let the liquid drain off. Then put a small plate over the cucumbers in the colander and gently press down to squeeze off as much liquid as you can. (You can also put cucumbers inside a clean dish towel and gently squeeze to remove the liquid.) Blot cucumbers dry with a paper towel.
Put cucumbers back into the bowl (which you have dried out with a paper towel). Add the dressing mixture and gently combine. This salad is best when it sits for about 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors combine. Serve with additional sour cream and paprika to add to the salad at the table if desired.
This salad will keep overnight in the fridge, and may even be better the second day. (I gobbled up all my leftover salad for breakfast the next day, so I don't know if it will last longer for one day in the fridge.)
South Beach Suggestions:
The South Beach Diet recommends light sour cream, and that's what I usually use. But for a traditional recipe like this and only 1/4 cup sour cream in 6 servings, I would splurge and use the real thing. All the ingredients in this recipe are so low-glycemic, that even if you did splurge on the full-fat sour cream, I would eat this for any phase of the diet. (I believe in following the spirit of the law and not necessarily the letter of the law when it comes to dieting, so if you'd prefer you can still make a great tasting salad with light sour cream.)
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Tasty Cucumber Salads from Around the World:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Ten Favorite Cucumber Salads from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad from The Kitchn
Effie's Easy and Amazing Cottage Cheese Salad with Za'atar from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta from Simply Recipes
Wake Up Your Mouth Thai Cucumber Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Thai Cucumber Salad from Cookin' Canuck
Chinese Cucumber Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Joanne Weir's Cucumber and Feta Salad from David Lebovitz
Fattoush - Lebanese "Crumbled Bread" Salad with Sumac from Kalyn's Kitchen
Suchuan Cucumber Salad from Appetite for China
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!