Kápostás Tészta (Hungarian Caramelized Cabbage Noodles)

While I have discussed this recipe before, and posted it as well, it always holds a special place for me. It was the comfort food of my childhood. I remember my dad making it as a kid and we always enjoyed a big bowl of it in the centre of the table almost weekly.
This recipe has triggered an extra memory today because 18 years ago today, my dad passed away. After a decade of struggles with a heart condition, he finally succumbed to a massive stroke.
Agonizing over the decision, my brothers and I, days before Christmas had to have the worst thought, “He opened his eyes briefly, only to be vacant and recognize nothing and no one. His quality of life would be attached to a machine indefinitely. Do we ‘pull the plug’ and let him go?”
We came to the conclusion that his state at that time was no way to live and collectively decided to let him pass away in peace. It was a sombre Christmas and every year in these last days before Christmas, it’s always hard.
It took years to not feel that heavy weight of his loss. There’s a vacancy that is just there. Finding comfort in the things that he taught me, the example that he provided is what I think about now. The various Hungarian dishes that I’ve learned from him and others that I’ve explored and tried to recreate to better learn his homeland of Hungary. The work ethic that he instilled in me to always work hard, but to also temper that work with compassion for others.
Today I thought of Kápostás Tészta as I was walking around doing some errands. The comforting nostalgia of the dish always makes me smile. So even on the hardest of days, I learn from my dad, all these years later. And smile. Embrace those you love. In body. In mind. In spirit.

Kápostás Tészta (Hungarian Caramelized Cabbage Noodles)
Recipe type: Appetizer
For the Caramelized Cabbage:
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 4 cups finely grated green cabbage (not Savoy or Chinese cabbage varieties, simply regular green)
  • 1 tsp salt
For the Cabbage Noodles:
  • Prepared Caramelized Cabbage
  • 450g/1lb medium egg noodles, cooked until tender
For the Caramelized Cabbage:
  1. In a medium pot over medium high heat, add the oil. Once the oil heats to a smoulder but not smoking, add the cabbage and salt. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot as necessary. As the cabbage dries slightly and sticks, you may need to add a few tablespoons of water and scrape the bottom further, incorporating the “brown bits” into the slowly browning cabbage.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook the cabbage, stirring more, scraping more and repeating the addition of water if it gets too dry for a further 7-10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir the cabbage more. It should be getting a pale brown colour, losing most of its remnant green colour. As it dries again (about 5-7 minutes later), add a bit more water, scraping the bottom of the pot once more, stirring the cabbage until it is a deep golden brown colour. Keep warm while you cook the egg noodles.
For the Cabbage Noodles:
  1. Toss the prepared Caramelized Cabbage with the cooked egg noodles. Serve with a sprinkle of salt, or many traditional Hungarians add a sprinkle of sugar. Serves 4.