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Feb 12, 2009 10:39 AM

Does Paprika add anything more than color?

I've tried Paprika in different dishes so many times, but have never been able to discern a difference in the same dishes when I left it out besides color...Could you please school me on what I'm missing?

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    1. re: todao

      Interesting. I've always wondered about the different shades/colors.

      1. re: todao

        Regarding the explanation on wisegeek, I'm looking for some expert comment here.

        In my readings Hungarian, or any other paprika for that matter, comes from a pepper that is anything but a Bell pepper. It resemble a Shepherd in shape and carries a lot of heat unless the ribs are removed. Raw they are very hot, but when diced and cooked add an intense pepper taste with no heat.

        If a paprika derives from Bells then for sure it can have little flavour. I've not found that to be the case with any available product,

        The spice came to us from the Turks and now I'm curious about what I'd find in a middle eastern shop.

      2. Spanish smoked paprika is (as one would expect from the name) smoked, and adds a delicious smokey flavor to dishes.

        Normal paprika is very mild in flavor though.

        8 Replies
        1. re: aravenel

          Jose Andres insists on calling the smoked paprika 'pimenton', so we don't confuse it for the bland coloring type.

          1. re: paulj

            That is SPANISH smoked paprika only.

              1. re: paulj

                Hungarian and mexican smoked paprika....;-)

                1. re: bigfellow

                  Agreed - the pimenton is simply the Spanish pronunciation of the item. They can and are the same thing.

                  And while paulj is joking somewhat, there are other paprikas from other area int he world.

                  1. re: bigfellow

                    Which chiles do they use for the Mexican version? I'm aware that jalapenos are smoke dried, but can't think of any other dried ones which have a significant smokiness.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Smoke dried jalapeƱos are chipotles. not paprika.

                      1. re: BobB

                        That's why I was wondering about the reference to Mexican smoke paprika. Mexican growers could grow and smoke dry a mild chile like they do in Spain, but as far as I know, they have not traditionally done so.

                        I've bought jarred piquillo peppers and white asparagus from Peru. Evidently someone there has gotten the idea that they could make some money by producing Spanish style products at a lower cost. The same could be done with smoked paprika.

                        Using the right wood for the smoke could be a problem. The most highly prized Spanish pimenton uses oak.

          2. I'm in the same camp with you on Paprika.....for me it's nothing more than food coloring. I know there are some excellent Spanish and Hungarian Seasonings, the former being more mild than the latter, however I do not cook enough dishes that warrant purchasing the more expensive versions. I know that does not sound like a very good Chowish attitude to have. If I were making a true Goulash recipe, I would definitely seek it out...but I think I made Goulash twice in the last 20 years. I use it mostly for baked chicken or an occasional rub for meat at most. Sometimes when making a dip for a holiday platter, I sprinkle some on top of the sour cream dips...

            Another reason why I have a less that stellar appreciation for the spice.....all the Greek diners in Northern New Jersey use it on everything they make .....always on top of the fish and in the home fries. Very unappetizing the way they do it...but especially when they make gravy......have you ever seen orange gravy? No? go to a Greek Diner.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              If you can spare $3 or $4 you can see what all the fuss is about. Point is, it's not that expensive - certainly no more expensive than any other grocery store spice. There are always exceptions, and you can pay for the expensive mail order versions if you want, but my guess is that there is some smoked paprika in your regular grocery store. Look over by the gourmet salts.

              1. re: fourunder

                I remember ordering eggs and potatoes in a NJ coffee shop in Princeton for me and my young daughter, and the whole dish was covered in paprika in much the same way that you would sprinkle powdered sugar on a cake. My kid howled and wouldn't touch her food. I couldn't understand the point, as the paprika in use was nearly flavorless.

                Hungarian paprika comes in sweet and hot varieties, and in sufficient quantity can be tasted. I often use the sweet, or sometimes Spanish smoked, when I make oven fries. I toss potato wedges in EVOO, onion powder, paprika, and salt -- and I do think that either paprika adds flavor, the smoked more so.

              2. Hungarian Paprika is a LOT more than just is sweet and complex (there is a hot version as well). I would never be without a can of real noble rose Hungarian paprika in my cabinet.

                And as far as gravy goes, there is nothing more delicious than Paprika Gravy in the Hungarian style.
                Awsome stuff.

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Professor

                  Is there a particular purveyor you can recommend other than the standard Szeged?

                2. Try hungarian paprika. There are different types and grades. I use smoked paprika often. It gives off a stronger flavour. But remember sometimes you just want to be subtle.