Tips & Recipes

A culinary Giro d'Italia: Hungarian hot sauce

Learn how to make the sauce our riders discovered at the 2022 Giro.

May 7, 2022

The 2022 Giro d’Italia has begun in Hungary.

The Italian grand tour has made it a tradition to start in a foreign country every few years. This year’s Grande Partenza of the Giro includes three stages in Hungary. After racing from the capital of Budapest, past farmland and vineyards, to Viségrad castle on the first day, the riders take on a tricky nine-kilometre time trial through Budapest’s eclectic streets. After crossing the Danube and passing the Parliament, the riders face a steep climb up Castle Hill. The next day, the riders race a lap of Lake Baloton. The stage starts in the colourful town of Kaposvár and finishes in Balatonfüred, one of Hungary’s prettiest wine villages.

Few people have heard of Olaszrizling, the grapes used to make the local wine. Spicy and floral, it is the perfect compliment to Hungarian cuisine, which revolves around one ingredient: rich and fragrant paprika.

Peppers weren’t introduced to Hungary until the 16th century, but the spice is now the crucial ingredient in Hungary’s most iconic dishes, such as goulash, lecsó, fisherman’s soup, and chicken paprikás.

Paprika is more fundamental to Hungarian cuisine than that though. Sit down to a meal in Hungary, and there is sure to be a peppery hot sauce on the table to add to whatever is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can buy the sauce in a store, but most families have their own recipes.

At our first hotel in Hungary, the hotel chef Tomas gave the riders a jar of some he had made himself. The riders are already hooked. They’ve been putting it on their eggs in the morning and (don’t tell any Italians) their pasta at night. They have a musette full of sauces, which Owen brings around to all of the races, so they can season their meals as they like. Hungarian paprika is now in the musette, and will surely need to be replenished before too long, as it is disappearing fast.

“What I have learned from cooking in a Hungarian kitchen is that paprika is used in many dishes, subtly and punchily," Owen says. "You'll be sure to find a tub of paprika in almost every kitchen spice cupboard all around the world, but many people don't know how to use it properly. In Hungary, it is used to add flavour and heat, but also acidity and colour.”

We asked Tomas for the recipe. It is as simple as it gets.

Ingredients

600 grams of chillies (e.g. habanero peppers)

600 grams of sweet red Kapia peppers

Salt to taste

Method

Wash the peppers

Cut open the Kapias and remove and discard the seeds

Mash the chillies and the Kapias in a blender or vegetable chopper

Season with salt

Let the mixture sit for one hour

Drain excess moisture using a colander or cheese cloth

Pour the mixture in jars and pasteurise

Allow the mixture to cool before sealing the jars

Enjoy your Hungarian hot sauce whenever you think a dish needs some extra flavour or spice

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