ABOUT SLOVAK CUISINE
Part of the joy of travelling is sampling the regional cuisine and experiencing local culinary specialities. Here is a brief guide to what you can expect to find in Slovak restaurants. You will find the food hearty and filling.
You can find more information in the Slovak Cookery book
The best known Slovak soup is kapustnica, a hearty cabbage soup with smoked pork sausage that often contains mushrooms, and sometimes plums, especially at Christmastime. This soup is also served at weddings to revive guests at midnight! It is perfect to take away the chill on a cold day.
Another typical Slovak soup is fazulova polievka, made of beans and root vegetables such as carrots and parsley. Sometimes, smoked pork is added. While in Slovakia, be sure an try cesnakova polievka, a garlic soup usually cooked in chicken broth with parsley and an egg, or croutons.
Drzkova polievka is often seen on menus here -- beware if you are not fond of tripe!
The fish soup Halaszle‚ is borrowed from Hungarian cuisine. Usually very spicy, it is a combination of different types of fish in a hot paprika broth.
A very typical Slovak appetizer is the sunkova rolka s chrenovou penou, a slice of ham stuffed with horseradish flavoured cream. Bryndza cheese appetizers in pastry dough or flavored with paprika and served with bread are also typical appetizers. One of our favorites is Ostiepok, a smoked cheese baked with ham (vyprazany ostiepok so sunkou).
Miesany salat (mixed salad) is readily available in Slovakia. Watch for the word sterilizovany, however as it means that the vegetables are canned, not fresh. It is also possible to get salads consisting of one vegetable, with cabbage (kapusta), tomato (paradajka), and cucumber (uhorka) being the most popular.
Side dishes, such as rice or potatoes, are usually not included in the price of your main course (they will be listed with the description if included) and need to be ordered separately. Mashed potatoes (zemiakova kasa), baked potatoes (zapekane zemiaky), French fries (hranolky), boiled potatoes (varene zemiaky), fried potatoes similar to homefries without onions (opekane zemiaky) and potato croquettes (zemiakove krokety) are the most common potato side orders.
Rice is served plain (obycajna) or flavoured with ham (sunka), curry (kari), peas (hrasok), mushrooms (hriby or sampinony). Some restaurants serve dumplings (halusky) as a side dish. Ketchup is found on some restaurant tables, but in most cases, it is necessary to request it and pay a separate charge.
Tartar sauce (Tatarska omacka) also needs to be ordered separately -- it is often served with french fries, fried cheese, or fried vegetables.
Meat, poultry, and game
The most popular meat by far is pork, which comes in several forms: pork chops (kare or rezen), pork steak (cernohorsky bravcovy rezen ), rib of pork, (rebierko), and leg of pork. It is commonly stuffed with ham and cheese (sunka, syr).
One of the best cuts is a steak called rostenka in Slovak.
Another specialty which is only sometimes on the menu is knee of pork (bravcove koleno), which supposedly has the most tender meat. Pork liver (bravcova pecen) can also be found on some Slovak menus. This is not to be confused with Ciganska pecen , which has no liver at all, but is baked pork with garlic.
One of our favorite dishes is a stew made of pork (Szegedinsky gulas), a delicious combination of stewed pork, sauerkraut, spices and sour cream. Pork is also popular served in a large potato pancake (zemiakova placka), but beware, it can be spicy! Pork is also served cooked similarly to schnitzel, breaded and fried and called vyprazany bravcovy rezen. Parizsky bravcovy rezen is a variation on the same theme, but is a pork chop fried in dough. If you want a simple piece of pork (or other meat), ask for prirodny rezen.
Many beef dishes are found on Slovak menus. The sirloin with fried onions (viedenska rostenka) is usually made from a high quality cut of meat, as steak, which is often served with a fried egg (biftek s vajcom). This is usually the most expensive menu item.
Svieckova is also usually a better cut of meat, and is often served with homemade style dumplings (domaca knedla). Pleskavica is ground beef and can be served with a pork chop.
Stuffed peppers (plnena paprika) or stuffed cabbage (plnena kapusta) are ground beef and rice often with a tomato sauce -- you need to ask if they are spicy (stiplava, pikantna). Beefsote is a spicy mixture of beef with sour cream. Hovadzi gulas is a tasty beef stew with paprika, green/red peppers, onion and tomatoes.
Poultry is very popular in Slovakia and will be found on virtually every menu. Chicken (kura) is served fried (vyprazane), baked (pecene), or skewered (na spize). In some restaurants you can call a day ahead and order chickens roasted on a spit right in the restaurant (grilovane kurca). Turkey also comes in several varieties here. The breast (prsia) is the most popular cut and comes prepared in any of the following ways: fried and stuffed with ham and cheese (vyprazane morcacie prsia plnenc syrom a sunkou), with fruit (s ovocim), sauteed (morcacie sote) -- watch out -- this dish is usually spicy!
Veal is sometimes available, and is served grilled (grilovane), as chops (telacie rezne), or in medallions (medailonky) served with a sauce.
Fall is duck (kacica) and goose (hus) season in Slovakia. Usually served with dumplings (knedliky), or pancakes dripping with grease from the cooked bird (lokse), it usually comes with steamed cabbage (dusena kapusta). Also, you don't want to miss the goose liver ( husacia pecienka) often served as an appetizer.
It is common to see game (zverina) on menus with venison (jelenie maso), and boar (divina) being the most popular. Lamb is rarely found on Slovak menus (jahnacie).
Though imported seafood is making an appearance on more and more Slovak menus, the main fish staples in Slovak cuisine are carp and trout (pstruh) (raised on Slovak fish farms) and fish filets.
Carp (kapor) is very popular and is the traditional Slavic Christmas Eve meal. It can be fried (vyprazany), baked (na roste) or served with nuts (s orechami). It is good served with garlic (s cesnakom), or in a dough made from beer (v pivnom cesticku). If you see a menu listing for rybie orly, it is carp fried in a light batter. Watch out for the bones!
Trout comes baked (na roste) or stuffed (plneny), often with almonds (mandle), ham and cheese (so syrom a sunkou), or boiled (na modro) for those of us watching our calories. Fish filets (file) is a portion of fish cooked in butter (na masle) or fried (vyprazany).
A word about fish prices. Unlike meat, there is usually a base price for 100 or 150 grams and an additional amount for every ten grams more -- usually marked next to the listing. The price is calculated according to the fish in its raw state. Do not be fooled into thinking that the base price is the entire price!