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Harcsapaprikas, Hungarian Fish Paprikash

Harcsapaprikas is a Hungarian fish paprikash, often made with catfish it can be made with any meaty white fish & it is delicious!

Portrait image of a Hungarian fish paprikash or harcsapaprikash served on a white plate in a silky paprika rich sauce

Paprikash without Chicken?

Let’s face it people do not know a lot about Hungarian food.

If you asked even the most dedicated foodies to name 5 top Hungarian dishes I reckon that they would struggle to get beyond 2 or 3.

Naturally, Goulash would be mentioned and you will probably find chicken paprikash mentioned but then you will likely slow down long before you got to the majesty of Langos!

But within those two dishes alone there are hundreds of variants and paprikash does not automatically mean chicken!

The first thing that people notice when people visit us in Hungary is the profusion of offal.

The next thing is that paprikash, in these parts at least, is just as likely to be made with fish as it is with chicken. It is even a simple dish made with sausage and potatoes called paprikas krumpli in homes across the country.

This is largely due to our proximity to Lake Tisza, the second largest lake in Hungary, and it is packed to the gunnels with catfish and carp.

Fish paprikash in these parts is made with the former, and harcsapaprikas translates as catfish paprikash.

It is a delicious but simple affair of meaty fish cooked gently in a Hungarian paprika and sour cream sauce.

One important note on the paprika for this recipe, make it sweet Hungarian paprika. Nothing else tastes like it at all!

Portrait overhead image of a Hungarian fish paprikash or harcsapaprikash served on a white plate in a silky paprika rich sauce

What Fish to Use.

Hungary has not had a coastline in a century and as such harcsapaprikas here is almost always made with freshwater fish.

That does not mean that this dish must be made with catfish. Let’s face it the world is not overrun with catfish recipes because it just ain’t that popular!

There are many alternatives that I have been testing for you. Huge sacrifices, I know, you can thank me later!

If I had a completely free reign then I would choose monkfish tail, it is perfect for this recipe. But long gone are the days when it was affordable so it would be an indulgent substitution.

I have cooked it twice, it is spectacularly good but needs cooking for 4-5 minutes longer than than the catfish or my other recommendations.

More affordable substitutions are hake, pollock, haddock.

If you are in the UK then I have also heard that Basa or Swai have started to make an appearance in stores as varied as Sainsbury and Aldi. I know it as pangasius and it is a form of catfish and it works really well!

Portrait close up image of a Hungarian fish paprikash or harcsapaprikash served on a white plate in a silky paprika rich sauce

Serving Suggestions

Seemingly in these parts, fish paprikash is served with a dish called csusza teszta.

It is a “curd cheese” pasta side dish that features bacon, turo and sour cream. I have to serve this dish with it or my wife will hurt me, she loves the stuff!

Turo is often translated to be many things and it is none of the things it gets translated as.

You can make it at home and Hungary loves the stuff, they even have a chocolate bar stuffed with it. It is a mild cream cheese and you can make turo it at home!

If you want an alternative Hungarian experience, then pair this recipe with some homemade nokedli. A Hungarian noodle or dumpling perfect for paprikash.

If you want a store-bought option give some gnocchi a boil and toss it through a little butter and maybe add some bacon.

I personally love this served with some crispy fried potatoes.

I also always add some spicy Hungarian hot wax pepper, it has a similar heat level to Jalapeno peppers.

Square image of a Hungarian fish paprikash or harcsapaprikas served on a white plate in a silky paprika rich sauce
Yield: 2 Servings

Harcsapaprikas, Hungarian Fish Paprikash Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Fish Paprikash or harcsapaprikas is every bit as well known in many parts of Hungary as its chicken based brethren, a wonderfully rich decadent fish dish from Central Europe.


  • 350 g (12 oz) Boneless White Fish
  • 50 g (1/3 Cup) Shallot
  • 75 ml (1/3 Cup) Sour Cream
  • 150ml (2/3 Cup) water
  • 2 Tbsp Bacon Fat or Butter
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Small Green Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • Salt to Taste
  • Pepper to Taste


  1. Cut the catfish into large 2.5-3cm chunks.
  2. Finely dice the shallot.
  3. Cut the tomato and green pepper into 1cm cubes.
  4. Mix together the paprika and flour, then season generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the bacon fat or butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat.
  6. Coat the fish in the paprika mix and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove the fish, leaving the fat in the pan, and place in a bowl for later.
  8. Add the diced shallot to the pan and cook until translucent.
  9. Add the diced pepper and cook on for another 3-4 minutes.
  10. Pour in 50ml of water and add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
  11. Add 50ml of water to the remaining paprika and flour, then mix to form a paste and add it to the pan.
  12. Stir in the fish and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  13. Mix the sour cream with a final 50ml of water and then pour into the pan and bring to temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 615Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 495mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 47g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Looks delicious! If using monkfish as you said, do you cook for the extra 4-5mins when you fry it or at the end in the broth?

Brian Jones

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

I would cook it for longer at the end of the process rather than at the frying stage.

Norbert S.

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021


I found a mistake, you wrote lake Tisza, but it's a river, maybe you wanted to write lake Balaton.

Best, Norbert S. Hungary

Brian Jones

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

No mistake Norbert!

Tisza To is less than 15km from my home and it is beautiful, you should definitely check it out!

It is far less commercial and more "natural" than Balaton, odd really considering that it is largely a man-made feature, it less spectacular than Balaton but really rather stunning in my opinion.


Friday 12th of January 2018

I've tried Sertéspaprikás, but not catfish yet. This looks delicious! I love how you paired it with the diced pickled cucumbers.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 16th of January 2018

Bizarrely enough pork is the least common meat to find in a paprikash here in Hungary, which is really odd as it is really common in every other way ;)


Friday 12th of January 2018

This looks and sounds absolutely fabulous -- so inventive too. I admit to not liking catfish, because I typically get the one piece that tastes like mud (why???) I have access to lots of other fresh fish, though - so maybe I'll try this with a different variety. Thanks for the inspiration!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 16th of January 2018

I reckon this would work wonderfully with monkfish and I would give it a try myself if I didn't have to sell a kidney to be able to afford some here in landlocked Hungary ;)


Friday 12th of January 2018

This is just a good idea to use the same technique for chicken for fish--the flavors are just incredible.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 16th of January 2018

It is a very different technique to the way chickne paprikash is traditionally made but a very similar flavour.

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