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20.8.12

HUNGARIAN TOMATO SALAD - PARADICSOM SALÁTA


It is not for me to critique other cooking sites, but there is a tomato salad on a well known Hungarian recipe site that is not “authentic”. The real thing is much, much simpler. I suppose it isn’t easy to withstand the cultural pressure and westernize what you personally deem simplistic. The only problem I have with that is then don’t call it “authentic”. Hungarian cuisine has lots of layered and complicated dishes; so I fail to see the wisdom in overcomplicating what is simple. And Hungarian tomato salad IS a simple dish, pared down to the most basic of elements. And yet it is full of flavour and freshness.

Once again the only requirement is giving it time, time which many people don’t have a lot these days. Dump a bag of prewashed salad into a bowl and pass the salad dressing and the salad is ready. Throw half a bag of precooked chicken chunks on the top and it’s a meal. The flavour of course is gone; it’s all been processed out. That is not how Hungarian cuisine works. Even the simplest of things like this salad needs time to develop. And when you give it time, it’s delicious. As a kid, I always drank the tomato infused brine that was ladled into my salad bowl. I still do it when it’s just darling and me. In company, I take my bowl to the kitchen and hide it behind the toaster. If my “bull cook” hubby doesn’t clear it away with the rest of the dishes, I drink it after my company is gone.

4-6 large ripe, juicy fresh tomatoes
1 batch of Hungarian Salad Brine

• Assemble the brine in the salad bowl.
• Wash the tomatoes and remove stems and the white core. Remove any blemishes.
• Cut the tomatoes into bite size segments with a sharp chef’s knife.
• Add them to the brine.
• Let the tomatoes soak in the brine for 2-4 hours at room temperature.
• Serve the salad with a serving ladle and with individual salad bowls.

6 comments:

  1. I was recently at a picnic and they did just that...lettuce and dressing. What on earth is THAT? I'm really loving the brining and am very sure I would love this salad.

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  2. It would have been better just nature. Eva, I am glad you like the brining.

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  3. You are right Zsuzsa. Simple things are often the best... I have also noticed that genuine ethnic recipes tend to be "fancified" as if people were ashamed of their simplicity.
    I think I wouldn't be ashamed to drink the brine ;-) When I go to my favourite pizzeria with a close friend who doesn't like the crust (almost my favourite part in good thin pizza), I simply take her cut off pieces and finish them.

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  4. We all do things... But there are two things I can't abide by, licking the knife and double dipping. Oh and don't EVER slurp. I guess that makes three. :-)

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  5. When I make the tomato salad I use the Hungarian brine plus I add some finely chopped onion,parsley and a little bit of oil.

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  6. It would be delicious your way too. I too make a lot of mixed salads, check out the salad section in my on line cookbook. Plus I think I have seen your version in Konyhamuveszet. But then half of that cookbook is French cooking. Old Hungarian cookbooks call for brining only. I have a bit of a problem with a certain “authentic” Hungarian cookbook - I suspect the tomato salad has been doctored up or never have been authentic in the first place. There are lots of regional variations certainly. But I suspect foul play is involved when most things are authentic and only the simplest dishes get a fancy-up treatment.

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I began to post recipes for my family and it turned out to be a work in progress. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has over 900 recipes of Hungarian and international recipes. My recipes are organized into a cookbook format. On top of the page click on the cookbook to get access to all my recipes. If I ever figure out how to add a printer friendly gadget I will add it. In the meantime feel free to cut and paste. Happy cooking!

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