Sunday, May 20, 2012
Tarhonya is a Hungarian egg noodle that seems to be cooked differently by everyone I've asked... but this is the way my mother makes it (quite obviously the superior method). Though it's technically more like a pasta, I usually treat my tarhonya more like rice, mixing it with whatever's on hand in my fridge and stir-frying a bit. On its own it makes a great side-dish for more or less any meat or vegetable course.
Tarhonya noodles are a bit hard to find, but I've had luck at places with a lot of European imports and big grocery stores in neighborhoods with Jewish and Eastern European populations (Fairway had three different kinds when I lived on the Upper West Side, it was great). The different brands are variously referred to as tarhonya, egg farvel, and toasted barley noodles. Unfortunately none of those links are to actually purchasable products at the moment (unless you want to buy in bulk), but they should give you an idea of what to look for in the store and I'll update this post if I find a good seller online. You can also make your own noodles, which looks fairly simple, but I haven't done it yet as I've usually been able to find the pre-made noodles when I need them. I'll let you know if I try it out.
The way I cook tarhonya is similar to the way risotto is cooked. I use a wok, but you can also use a large pot or a frying pan with fairly deep sides. Have a lid or large plate on hand to cover the pan.
1 package tarhonya
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
4-5 cups broth at room temperature (I use vegetable broth)*
paprika to taste
additional ingredients to suit your palate
*A 12 oz package will use four cups or so of broth (I don't really keep track), but if you run out you can use warm water towards the end--broth adds flavor, but water will cook the noodles just as well.
Heat the oil in the bottom of your pan on a medium-low setting. Add the tarhonya and slowly toast until lightly browned (if you're using the Manischewitz kind it's already toasted, but do heat it a bit in the oil). Take your time with this--the tarhonya won't cook right or taste very good if you burn it.
When the tarhonya is toasted, stir in about 1/2 cup of the broth. Continue stirring (like risotto) until the broth has been mostly absorbed, and add another 1/2 cup. Keep doing this until the tarhonya is tender but still firm and all of the broth has been absorbed. Stir some paprika through the noodles. Put the lid (or plate) on the wok/pot/pan and let the tarhonya and let it sit for ten minutes.
While you're waiting, chop up some onions and sautee them in butter or oil with a bit of paprika and garlic powder (or fresh garlic). Mix this with the tarhonya and serve for a traditional-style dish, or stir-fry briefly with vegetables, sausage, cheese, or whatever you have on hand for an original one. The version pictured at the top of this entry has sauteed onions, chunks of grilled sausage, and daikon greens (my latest food obsession).