Over at Aliette de Bodard’s blog, we were talking about egg noodles. She describes her perfumed egg noodles as a “bland” dish that can be served alongside dishes with a stronger flavor. However, the noodles have no less than six seasonings added. I couldn’t help comparing it to one of my favorite egg noodle recipes, a dish my family calls Halushka. Halushka is seasoned with salt. That’s all. My Hungarian grandmother would have fainted at the idea of adding ginger, chili-garlic sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, AND onions to a noodle dish. She might, in fact, protest that it is impossible to digest such a dish.
(Now, don’t get me wrong. Aliette’s perfumed noodles sounds delicious, and I fully intend to try it out. Do visit her site, by the way, because it is full of wonderful Vietnamese/French cooking deliciousness and would appeal to all people who love food.)
Now, my egg noodle dish is delicious in its own way. The simple mixture of cabbage, egg noodles, butter, and salt is one of the most comforting and satisfying meals in my cooking repertoire, and it brings back many happy memories, to boot. All of Hungarian food is comfort food, really. But Halushka is the ultimate–the epitome of comfort in food form. It is comfort food for people who get heartburn from macaroni and cheese, and find mashed potatoes unsatisfying.
Now, we call it Halushka, but it is eaten throughout Eastern Europe and known by many names. The word Halushka, actually, is generally used to refer to a noodle or dumpling. Hungarian dumplings are not those fluffy things you get at Cracker Barrel. They’re more like German spaetzle on steroids. Complicating things further is the fact that my maiden name is Haluska, which in Slovak is pronounced Halushka. (Slovak and Hungarian food and culture bleed into each other extensively, and I’m not an expert on either.)
So now that all of that is out of the way, here’s the recipe.
One head of cabbage, shredded finely
1/2 stick of real butter (please don’t make me cry by trying to use margarine or some kind of vegetable oil)
One pound dried egg noodles (It’s ok if you want to use an egg-free pasta or even a gluten-free pasta. It should be a short, wide noodle, though.)
Cook the cabbage in the butter over low heat until it’s soft and translucent. I usually put it in an electric stock pot and leave it on low for an hour or more. You don’t want it crunchy or crispy brown. Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water. (If you’re on a low sodium diet, you probably won’t enjoy this recipe, as it doesn’t have a lot of flavor to replace missing salt. My grandmother used to make unsalted Halushka for Grampa when he was having his heart problems, and it was always disappointing.)
Drain the pasta and mix it with the cabbage. Salt to taste. Yum! It goes with anything, and keeps well in the fridge. My family uses Halushka like Italians use pasta–serve it with everything!
This is a participating post at Real Food Wednesday by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.