Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Article

Ingredient Profile: Paprika

Fine Cooking Issue 78
Photo: Scott Phillips
Save to Recipe Box
Print
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Print
Add Recipe Note

In American cooking, paprika seems to be used more as a food coloring than as a spice. Sprinkled over deviled eggs and potato salads, it looks pretty and doesn’t taste like much. But heat it gently in oil and this shy spice blossoms, exuding a sweet flavor with rich earthy undertones and a heat level that ranges from gentle to spicy-hot, depending on the variety of paprika.

Two distinctive styles

Ground from dried chiles, paprika plays an honored role in both Hungarian and Spanish cuisines. Each country has a distinctive style of paprika, both of which are generally better than the generic paprika found in supermarkets. Hungarian paprika is produced around the southern cities of Szeged and Kalosca. Traditionally, the ripened chiles were strung up to dry in the sun, but they are now more commonly dried in commercial ovens.

Hungarian paprika is available in several heat levels and grinds, including special,  mild, delikatess, semisweet, sweet, and hot, but only the latter two are commonly found in the United States. Used in foods like kielbasa, chicken paprikás, and goulash, Hungarian paprika is especially good in rich dishes with sour cream, potatoes, egg noodles, cabbage, or meat. It can be used generously—think tablespoons.

Spanish paprika or pimentón comes from western Spain’s La Vera valley. It differs from Hungarian paprika in that the chiles are dried over smoldering oak logs, giving them a smoky flavor. It comes in three heat levels: dulce, agridulce, and picante (sweet, bittersweet, and hot). It’s a key ingredient in paella, chorizo, and many tapas dishes. In the United States, pimentón isn’t as commonly available as Hungarian paprika, but it’s well worth seeking out. Add a little pimentón to scrambled eggs, black-bean chili, or roasted potatoes. It’s delicious wherever you’d like a smoky flavor, but remember that smokiness can easily overwhelm a dish, so start experimenting by using only 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.

Spanish smoked paprika (preferably pimentón de la Vera) is mostly available in specialty groceries, but you should have no trouble finding Hungarian paprika in many supermarkets. To mail order both Spanish and Hungarian paprika, visit Thespicehouse.com, where 2- to 2.5-oz. jars range from $2.88 to $3.98 (larger amounts are also available).

Buying and cooking

Look for paprika packaged in a tin with a tight-fitting lid and store it away from light and heat. Heating it in a little oil or butter helps bring out the flavor, but because of the high sugar content, it burns easily, so keep the heat low and the time short. It’s usually best to add it off the heat at the end of sautéing, before adding liquids.

Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 44%

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Videos

View All

Moveable Feast Logo

Season 4 Extras

Dijon, France (501)

Join host Pete Evans for the most opulent feast Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking has thrown! At the Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc in Burgundy, the Renaissance-style surroundings of one of France’s finest…

View all Moveable Feast recipes and video extras

Connect

Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks