Fresh or pickled vegetables are usually served as a side dish in Hungary instead of as a separate salad course. Cucumber salad — thinly sliced and spiked with salt, vinegar, sugar, and a blob of sour cream — is especially popular. Your chicken paprikash, pörkölt, and schnitzel will appreciate a plate of sweet-sour uborkasaláta by their side.
Yield: 4 servings; Total time: 10 minutes preparation time plus 30 minutes resting time
2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white vinegar
9 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced (or ½ onion, minced)
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 pinches Hungarian sweet paprika
Step 1: Peel and slice cucumbers into thin circles. Layer them in a mixing bowl, add a generous pinch of salt between each layer, then stir well. Put aside for 30 minutes, then discard excess water that has accumulated at the bottom (you can squeeze out more with hands).
Step 2: Whisk together vinegar, oil, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves, then combine well with bits of garlic and scallions (or onions). Pour mixture over the cucumbers. Chill until ready to serve.
Step 3: Serve on individual salad plates. Drizzle with chopped parsley and paprika and add a dollop of sour cream on top.
Words of advice
There are many variations of this simple-but-rewarding salad; many people omit the scallions and garlic but I like the crunch and pungency they bring to it.
I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day.