- Food and Cooking
Travelling Europe? Try a Local Fish Soup!
There are dishes that are thought to be the backbone of the local cuisine by everyone around the world, leaving us with a great variety of recipes that are about the same ingredient. Everyone has a chicken soup recipe, every nation would love to claim the title of most authentic cheese in the world.
While some of these foods may have been us with a few hundred years, we all think they're made the best and most authentic way in our country and our own family. Fish soup is one of these, there are about as many recipes around the world as there are countries, but if you really want to try some world cuisine you will have to try the most distinguished, most fiercely defended variants. You will probably still like your own recipe the best but it doesn't hurt to try new things, after all.
Chances are that you have heard of Hungary through one way or another, Rubik's cube is probably a familiar toy to most people in the western hemisphere. Szeged, a southern city of Hungary is thought to be one of the capitals of fish soup in Europe. Ongoing disputes are endless about which city makes the most authentic soup, but the fisherman's soup made in Szeged is the most accepted internationally.
You will find a basic recipe in any proper fish cookbook, but the actual food differs from family to family. It generally consists of at least four types of fish, one minced and cooked apart in the body of the broth, others are chopped into large pieces with the bone still in it. Variations exist that use fillets but most cooks in Hungary agree that the good fisherman's soup has a big chunk of fish the guest can feast on.
The key of the soup is a mix of river fishes, carp is the most emphasized, catfish, sturgeon and pike is also added. Halaszle, as they call it, is made with fresh ingredients and is prepared in a kettle on the river coast. Diced onions are added first and caramelized, plenty of dried paprika powder is used in all the recipes. It's diluted with freshwater and fishes are added to it.
The exact method and recipe is kept under many locks, but the actual soup because of the paprika, ranges from mild to extremely hot. Fisherman near Baja eat it milder but in the Tisza region around Szeged it is made hot and spicy.
This soup is often accompanied by white wine diluted by soda water and white bread. The spicier the soup the more bread will be necessary to keep the burning at bay. Competitions are held annually to find the best fisherman's fish soup of the year. The winner is usually decided by the public, or a committee.
There are other types of fish soups you should really try, Thailand is well known for its fish soup made with prawn, the Russian Ukha and the French bouillabaisse is also worth mentioning or having an article about but I suggest you have the fisherman's soup if you have to choose just one.