Hungarian Cucumber Salad

There is a backstory to this recipe.

About five years after my dad’s mom had died, I started remembering this dish she made that had paprika and sour cream and cucumbers. I polled my aunts and my cousin who knew some of the recipes. I tried what they told me. The texture was always wrong, the water was always puddled on top the next day, and it just didn’t taste right.

I dropped the recipe for a few years until I started needing different recipes for my kiddos with food issues. This time, though, I did some internet research.

I was amazed to find the dish had a name, and it was like macaroni salad: everyone has a recipe they swear by.

We are now on our fifth iteration, and our household prefers this formulation (the dill iteration almost made me a pariah). It does feed many people, and you may not find it easy to scale back. It also takes some time and planning (if you don’t salt the cukes and let them stand you get the ugly puddles on top). I prefer to use a food processor to chop some of my onions and then blend the dressing; you may do it by hand like my grandma used to.

Ingredients

  • 6 large cucumbers
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, slivered or minced (cook’s choice)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (genuine Hungarian paprika gives the best flavor)
  • 36 ounces (weight not volume) sour cream

Directions

  • Wash cucumbers well. Optionally, prior to slicing, you may peel the cucumbers, or you may keep the peels and use a fork to score the skins and create a pattern. (We like the skin as fiber, so we score the skins.)
  • Thinly slice the cucumbers.
  • Arrange the cucumbers in layers in a large bowl. Ensure each layer of cucumber has some salt sprinkled on it.
  • Allow the cucumbers to sit in a refrigerator for at least two hours.
  • Remove cucumbers; drain water. Optionally you may choose to dry the cucumber slices on paper towels. Place in a large bowl.
  • Mix the dressing. (These instructions assume the use of a food processor.)
    • Place onions and garlic in the mixing container. Process for one minute. (We like the flavor but not the texture at our house.)
    • Add the vinegar and sugar. Process for one minute.
    • Add the paprika. Process for 30 seconds.
    • Begin to add the sour cream in small batches, processing for one minute after each batch. (We usually do three batches.)
  • Pour the dressing over the cucumbers. Mix the cucumbers and dressing well.
  • Serve immediately

Note: We refrigerate and store this dish for a few days. We do get the puddle issue if we’ve not done the salt step properly; however, a good mixing usually hides our error.

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