Hungarian csipetke are a cross between a noodle and a dumpling. They can be cooked directly in soup or stew broth, or in plain water and are a great accompaniment for Hungarian Beef Goulash or any dish rich with pan juices or gravy.
Csipetke are one of the fastest homemade noodles to prepare. Their name comes from the way they are formed. Pinches of dough, about the size of a dime, are rolled into a ball, flattened and dropped into rapidly boiling water and cooked until tender.
While csipetke might look like nokedli, the Hungarian equivalent of German spaetzle, nokedli begin with a batter which is forced through a colander, sieve or noodle grater. Csipetke, on the other hand, are made with a dough that can be rolled between the fingers.
Types of Hungarian Noodles
Hungarian egg noodles, known as Magyar tojasos teszta or metelt, are an important part of the cuisine. And the sheer number of shapes probably can only be rivaled by Italian pasta. Hungarians cut them, pinch them, grate them, drop them and roll them.
Here are some of the most popular shapes of Hungarian noodles, all made from the same Basic Hungarian Egg Noodle Dough Recipe. The only one that uses a slightly different dough is the Tarhonya or Hungarian Egg Barley Recipe.
- Betû: Alphabet-shaped noodles.
- Cérnametélt: Extra-fine noodles, literally thread noodles.
- Copfocska: Twisted tails or pigtail noodles.
- Csiga: Snail or shell-shaped noodles made on special csiga boards. Chicken soup with csiga noodles was traditionally served at old country weddings because the csigas were believed to have fertility-inducing properties. Much like quilting bees in America, women in rural villages of Hungary get together and turn csiga-making into a social event. Many hands make light work and set in a store of noodles that will last throughout the year.
- Csuszedli: Broad noodles or long, wide noodles.
- Fodros Nagykocka: Frilly, large square noodles.
- Kaposztás: Large square noodles, literally "cabbage" because of its use with sautéed cabbage.
- Kiskocka: Small square noodles.
- Gyémánt: Small diamond-shaped noodles.
- Orsó: Spiral noodles similar to Italian rotini.
- Szarvacska: Little horn noodles similar to elbow macaroni (also the name for little-twisted noodles).
- Tarhonya: Tarhonya is a hand-grated noodle also known as egg barley. According to Otto's Hungarian Import Store and Deli, "... tarhonya dates back to the nomadic Magyar tribes. The Magyars carried ample supplies on their long rides across the Hungarian plains. This dried noodle occupied little space and (was) quickly prepared into a hardy (sic) meal over an open fire ... ." Tarhonya can be cooked in broth or treated like rice, barley or any other grain. Here is a recipe for Browned Egg Barley or Piritott Tarhonya.
- Virag: Flower-shaped noodles.
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- In a medium bowl, mix together 1 large beaten egg, 2 tablespoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour and knead with your fingertips until a firm, smooth dough forms. Add more flour if necessary.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place a large pot of salted water on to boil. Pinch off pieces of dough about the size of a dime and roll into a ball and then flatten them with your fingers. Drop them into the rapidly boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Don't be alarmed if your csipetke are all different shapes and sizes and are a little ragged. That's how they're supposed to look.
- Drain and rinse csipetke. Serve in soups like Hungarian Goulash Soup or stews like Hungarian Beef Goulash.
- Csipetke also can be cooked directly in soup stock or stew broth. If not used immediately, coat csipetke with butter or oil and store covered in the refrigerator.
Note: A csipetke variation calls for rolling the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cutting into 1-inch into 1/2-inch pieces and curling them into a cylinder in the palm of the hand or on a csiga board. The cooking time may need to be increased.