Cabbage Noodles – (Káposztás Tészta) Part One.

“I may have posted this before but I am a 79-year-old Disabled Veteran living in the California Veterans Home in Chula Vista, CA. I miss a lot of the Hungarian food my mother use to make but one thing I think a lot about is Hungarian Cabbage and Noodles. It would be great if someone in the San Diego area could make some for me and bring it to the Chula Vista Home”

Right now I’m in the process of creating a dish from memory because I was intrigued by this request for a very specific simple meal that no one has been able to deliver.  A request for cabbage and noodles, how difficult is that?  Apparently, very difficult.  I remember this meal. It was a favorite of mine.  Meat for us was not every day.   Too expensive.  My father had a garden and that was our mainstay.  We had many bread and noodle-based meals, and this was a favorite of mine. 

Thinking about my growing up Hungarian, I have specific food memories, which I know every single culture on the planet has…the comfort food of childhood. Noodles, dumplings, and pasta, it keeps us alive, but when it’s made just right, it’s the most sublime, perfect mouthfeel and chew, delicious meal on the planet.  The wheat protein, with or without egg, makes a nutritious dish. Coated with a sauce or simple combination of ingredients makes it magical, it’s what memories are made of.

This request just intrigued me, then the responses fascinated me. I checked back a week or so later. Someone had made cabbage and noodles, but not in the traditional Hungarian way. So the request remained unmet. My instinct was to just make it and deliver it to him, but California is a bit far. I have not given up. I’m thinking of sending some frozen with faster post. Meanwhile, I’m working on some other ideas incorporating these flavors.

The ingredients are simple and inexpensive.

  • 1 large head cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces butter
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound medium to large Hungarian noodles, cooked

The secret to this simple dish is browning the onion and cabbage until it caramelizes.
There are thousands of recipes online, and nearly impossible to sort out the proper method of preparation. I’m relying on my taste memory to sort it out.

This is not what cabbage noodles should look like:

The cabbage and onions should be darker, which makes it much sweeter and more complex in flavor:

I’ve found a great resource for Hungarian Foods in Jewish Cookbooks. Budapest was home to a huge population. The synagogue in Budapest is one of the largest in the world. The one in New York City was modeled after it. This recipe is the one I’m basing mine on because it involves brining the cabbage as the first step.

The method I am using and that I’m making today:

Brine the cabbage for a few hours tossed with kosher salt.
Soak and rinse a few times to remove excess salt.
Then begin cooking it down in butter.
Very low heat, tossing and stirring often to prevent burning.

Then caramelize the onions. I do them separately as they cook differently and I tend to burn everything.

To finish, add salt and pepper. I like ALOT. Sometimes I’ll add a wee little splash of apple cider vinegar to cut the butter.

Love Andie

If you would like to support my writing and the costs of providing and shipping this meal, please contribute here, with gratitude, Andie

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