If a recipe calls for "paprika", what type should I use? Does it mean Hungarian, Spanish, California? Also, what type, Hot, Bittersweet, Sweet?
If the recipe is just asking for "Paprika", they want generic paprika labeled as such. Like this:
According to the McCormick website, this is "sweet" paprika.
The dried, ground pods of Capsicum annuum L., a sweet red pepper.
Similarly, the Spice Islands site calls it sweet
Vividly red in color, paprika is made from ground Capsicum chili peppers. Although, it doesn’t pack the punch you’d expect from a chili. Instead, it has a sweet flavor and a delicate aroma that can vary from fruity to sharp.
You certainly do not want "smoked". Both of these companies sell this specifically.
In the US, generic paprika is probably closest to bittersweet - not sweet and definitely not hot, just a middle of the road not-too-assertive variety. Recipes aren't likely to be too picky about the exact type, so in the end, you can get away with whatever you personally like.
There are six different types. Hot, Hungarian, Plain, Smoked, Spanish, Sweet. The recipe you are following and your intended outcome will drive the decision on which to choose.
Paprika releases its flavor with heat but burns easily. So mix it in with liquid, and make sure it gets hot.
Sprinkled onto a cold dish (like deviled eggs), it remains quite bland. Add it to browned hamburger meat, and you're halfway to taco heaven.
When a recipe tells about Paprika, it generally means, "whatever" paprika you want.
There are two usages of paprika, colour, and taste.
If you just want colour, use a sweet one, even a cheap one, it will have no taste but gives a nice colour.
However, if you want a real taste, use real Hungarian paprika, there is a serious difference.
The Hungarian paprika comes in different flavor as well qualities depending on its origin in Hungary.
Here is an excerpt from wikipedia:
- Noble sweet (Édesnemes) – slightly pungent (the most commonly exported paprika; bright red)
- Special quality (különleges) – the mildest (very sweet with a deep bright red color)
- Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – a mild paprika with a rich flavor (color from light to dark red)
- Exquisite delicate (csemegepaprika) – similar to delicate, but more pungent
- Pungent exquisite delicate (csípős csemege, pikáns) – an even more pungent version of delicate
- Rose (rózsa) – with a strong aroma and mild pungency (pale red in color)
- Half-sweet (félédes) – a blend of mild and pungent paprikas; medium pungency
- Strong (erős) – the hottest paprika (light brown in color)
The most common are Szeged and Kalocsa.
Do not even try to make Gulyasleves without a true and quality hungarian paprika it won't have any tastes at all.
Oh, and never make burn your paprika by throwing it directly on fire, it will become bitter.