Jul 28, 2015

PAPRIKA Hawaiian-Style

Sweet Hungarian Paprika
Most of the staple ingredients in Hawaiian cuisine are a result of foreign cultural influences. We have the Portuguese to thank for bringing paprika to Hawaii in the form of a salty-sweet paprika paste. Hawaii's famous Portuguese sausage is flavored with this paste known as "massa de pimentão" (see recipe below). Sweet red bell peppers are salt-cured into a paste and eventually became the standard way for the Portuguese to season and flavor poultry, meats, and pork sausage. Bay leaves and garlic are two other mainstay ingredients in Portuguese cuisine that Hawaii cuisine benefits from.

Most Americans only use paprika over deviled eggs or on potato salad, and don't know that their are many ways to use this delicious spice. There are a few things to keep in mind when using paprika. When heated, this 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. 

Most paprikas come from Hungary or Spain and are made from the same family of peppers, but only sweet, and hot paprikas are found here in the US. Generally when cooking with paprika, a lot is used. A good example are rubs and spice blends. Most spice blends have paprika as a main ingredient.
Spanish Smoked Paprika

Hungarian paprika is 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.

Spanish paprika differs from Hungarian paprika in that the chiles are dried over smoldering oak logs, giving them a smoky flavor with different heat levels from sweet, bittersweet, and hot. It's a key ingredient in paella, chorizo, and many tapas dishes. It's delicious wherever you'd like a smoky flavor like in the shrimp recipe below, but remember that smokiness can easily overwhelm a dish, so start experimenting by using only 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.

Both Spanish and Hungarian paprika are generally better than the generic paprika found in US supermarkets. Spanish smoked paprika (preferably pimentón de la Vera) is mostly available in specialty groceries, but you should have no trouble finding sweet Hungarian paprika in most supermarkets unless you live on Moloka'i. I usually buy my spices online.

Note: If heating paprika in oil, do so gently as it can burn easily. Paprika, like most spices, should last about 6 months if stored away from light and heat.

Paprika Recipes:

Portuguese Chicken Paprika
Portuguese Chicken Paprika
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Chicken Paprika is a classic Hungarian recipe. That's because it's an inexpensive comfort food in the form of a stew with a thick sour cream-paprika gravy/sauce. The Portuguese have taken this recipe to a higher level with more flavor and richness than the Hungarian version. It's easy to make, and is a favorite in my house, and is highly recommended by yours truly.

6 to 8 boneless, skin on, chicken thighs*, about 2 pounds, cut in half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup dry white wine (use the white wine you like to drink)
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large roasted red pepper from jar, cut into 3/4-inch strips
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup Sweet Hungarian Paprika*
2 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry; season all over with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil and butter. Add chicken pieces, skin side down in a single layer being careful not to overcrowd the pot. If they don't all fit in the pot, divide the chicken into two batches. Cook, turning a couple of times, until pieces are browned on all sides, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 15 to 20 minutes (don't burn the chicken). Transfer chicken pieces to a bowl and discard all but 1 tablespoon of rendered fat from pot.

Deglaze the pot with the white wine and cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot and slightly reducing the wine. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, red bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves to the Dutch oven and cook covered for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until everything is almost tender. Add the paprika and stir for about 30 seconds, being careful as paprika will scorch easily making it bitter. Now add the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the cooked chicken pieces, skin side down, and continue cooking covered, until everything is tender, about 30 minutes more.
 Now mix the sour cream with the flour and a little of the sauce until smooth, then slowly whisk the mixture into chicken stock to prevent it from curdling. Simmer uncovered, until the sauce has thickened. Taste for additional seasoning, then transfer everything to a serving platter, or into soup bowls. Season sauce with salt and pepper if needed, and spoon liquid over the chicken and vegetables. Garnished with chopped parsley. Serve with Hawaiian sweet bread and lots of butter. Makes 6 servings.

*Notes: You can use any chicken part you like, from whole cut up chicken to chicken thighs. Personally I like the dark meat, drumsticks and thighs, of the chicken because it doesn't dry out like breast meat, and has more flavor.

There are so many different kinds of paprika, with colors ranging from orange to blood red, and tastes running from spicy to sweet and flavors from smoky to fruity. Sweet Hungarian Paprika is commonly found in the US. It is full-bodied, fruity, has a beautiful color, and is recommended for this recipe.

Roast Pork Loin with Sweet Red Pepper Paste
and Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients for the pork:
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 bay leaves, very finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons Sweet Red Pepper Paste (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pound pork loin roast

Ingredients for the roasted potatoes:
6 large red potatoes, washed, dried, and cut into 8 wedges each
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the oven to 350ºF. With a mortar and pestle or a fork, mash the garlic, ground bay leaves, and paprika to a paste. Stir in the sweet red pepper paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while stirring constantly. Cut crosshatches about 1/2-inch deep every few inches along the surface of the roast. Rub the paste all over the roast, pushing some of the paste into the crosshatches.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 Tbs. of the parsley and the garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil until well coated.

Put the pork in a lightly oiled roasting pan and scatter the potatoes around it. Roast until the internal temperature of the pork is 150ºF and the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour (turning the potatoes occasionally). Transfer the roast to a carving board and let it rest for 10 to 15 min. before slicing. Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining parsley and serve with spinach sautéed with garlic and sprinkled with a little red-wine or cider vinegar. Makes 6 servings.

Portuguese Red Pepper Paste
(Massa de Pimentão)

Hawaii's famous Portuguese sausage is flavored with this salt-cured paste. This classic paste can also be used as a rub to season poultry, pork, and even fish.

3 large red bell peppers
6 pounds of kosher salt (about 2 boxes)
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil, or as needed

Core, seed, and quarter the peppers. Trim away the ribs and any top and bottom ends that are extremely curvy.

Set a large freestanding stainless-steel or plastic sieve or footed colander in a large nonreactive pan or dish with sides. Line the sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and pour a 1-inch layer of salt into the sieve to form a base (some will seep out). Lay a single layer of pepper quarters, skin side up, on the salt. Press the peppers into the salt, making sure that any curvy parts are coated with salt or mold may form. Cover with a 1/2-inch layer of salt and another layer of peppers. Repeat with as many layers as needed, ending with a layer of salt. Set a heavy dish on top to weight it down. Let stand at room temperature for up to five days to remove the moisture from the peppers. By the fourth or fifth day, the peppers should be about 1/4 inch thick or less, which means they’re done.

Brush the excess salt off the peppers. Pass the peppers through a meat grinder or process them briefly in a food processor or blender; the texture should be somewhat coarse. Pack the paste in a sterilized glass jar, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Cover the paste with about 1/2 inch of olive oil, seal the jar, and refrigerate. Discard the salt.

Note: The salt in this recipe acts as a preservative, so the paste keeps for several months in the refrigerator when stored as directed. To use the refrigerated paste, push aside the congealed olive oil, remove what you need, and replace the oil, adding more as needed to cover the paste. 
Makes about 3/4 cup.

Hawaii's Paprika Fish Stew
This Portuguese-Style fish stew is easy to make and works well with Hawaii's firm white fish.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds firm white fish, skinless, like opakapaka, uhu, or onaga, cut into 2-inch chunks
slices of Hawaiian sweet bread

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaves and paprika and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup water and reduce the heat to medium low. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then nestle the pieces among the vegetables in the pan. Cover and simmer until the fish is just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Divide the stew among bowls. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro. Serve with the bread. Makes 4 servings.

Note: If you can't get any of Hawaii's white fish, use red snapper or stripped bass.

Roasted Shrimp Paprika
You will want to use smoked paprika for this recipe, not regular or sweet paprika. This recipe is spicy but not "hot" and very, very easy to make. You could also grill the shrimp kabob-style. The shrimp can be marinated in the mixture for up to a few hours before grilling, but don't marinate the shrimp too long.

1 large red bell pepper
1 1/2 pound shrimp (13 to 15 per pound)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the pan
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oregano, chopped fresh
1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine

Cut the bell pepper in half crosswise, stem an de-seed it, then cut it into 1/4 inch thick strips. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Brush a heavy large roasting pan with olive oil.

Combine the bell pepper shrimp, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, and the olive oil in a large bowl and mix well.

Spread the shrimp mixture out on the prepared roasting pan in a single layer. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.

Turn the shrimp and bell pepper and sprinkle with oregano. Roast until the shrimp are just opaque in the center about 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Place the roasting pan on a burner set at medium high heat. Add the sherry and boil, scraping up the browned bits about 2 minutes. Drizzle the pan juices over the shrimp mixture. Makes 6 servings.

Salad Nicoise with Sweet Paprika Vinaigrette
There's really not much to know about the very classic Salad Nicoise, other than how good it is. The traditional French recipe includes lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, tuna, anchovies, olives, onions and eggs, but these days you might find bell peppers, radishes, cucumber, and artichokes. The tomato based paprika salad dressing in this recipe is a nice change from a traditional mustard based vinaigrette, and would be wonderful on any salad.

Salad Nicoise with Sweet Paprika Vinaigrette
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Ingredients for the dressing:
3/4 pound ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon light-brown sugar or honey
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Procedure for the dressing:
Boil the tomatoes in water for 30 seconds. Cut tomatoes into quarters and remove the peel and discard seeds. Blend the tomatoes in a blender or food processor with vinegar, lemon juice, sugar or honey, garlic, oregano, and paprika and puree until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while blending. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients for the salad:
2 (7 ounce) ahi tuna steaks
6 ounces haricots verts, or small, thin green beans, ends trimmed
1 pound of potatoes, sliced into bite size pieces (I like Yukon Gold potatoes)
1 head of butter lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 Japanese cucumber
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 hard-cooked eggs
8 ounces of ripe Roma plum tomatoes
2 ounce can of anchovies, drained
2 ounces of pitted nicoise olives
olive oil
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley for garnish (optional)

Procedure for the salad:
Preheat the grill to a medium – high heat. Brush the tuna steaks with a little olive oil. Season with a little black pepper and place on the preheated grill to cook for about 5 – 7 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill when cooked through and allow to cool. Cut the tuna into chunks with a sharp knife. Set aside.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Remove the ends of the green beans and add to the pan of water as soon as the water begins to boil. Boil for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, drain the beans, refresh under cold running water and then pat dry with paper towels.

In the same pan add the potatoes with just enough salted water to cover, then bring to a boil. Cook just until they are tender through, about 15 minutes. Drain. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. In a large salad bowl, add the beans with the potatoes, while still warm, add one-third of the dressing, gently mix and set aside.

Cut the cucumber and onion into thin slices and add to the bowl with the potatoes and green beans. Mix the ingredients together. Wash and quarter the tomatoes, and add them to the bowl. Remove the shells from the hard-boiled eggs and cut into quarters, set aside.

Place whole lettuce leaves to cover two serving plates. Spoon the salad over the lettuce. Finally add the drained anchovies, olives, and eggs on top of the salad plates. Pour the rest of the dressing over the salads. Garnish each plate with the parsley and serve at once. Makes 2 large servings. Serve as a main course.

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