Halusky the Czech Gnocchi
Don’t worry about the name Halušky (that little flick above the “s” means it’s pronounced like “Haloosh-key), just think of it as Gnocchi. The base ingredient is potato dumpling but after that it can be served in a variety of ways. As street food this is pay-by weight so take some time and read How Pay-by-Weight Works in Prague. You should not be paying more than CZK50 per 100g for Halusky but it comes in variations. Remember that this is VERY FILLING so you won’t want more than 200g.
Czech Street Food Version
In Prague your introduction to Halusky is usually as a street food snack. You will always find Halusky wherever they are cooking Old Prague Ham because any off-cuts of ham get chopped up and go into the Halusky so nothing is wasted. So it starts off as plain potato gnocchi and the ingredients added will be bacon or cured ham, hot sweet cabbage (usually white) and maybe cumin/caraway seeds (the little black seeds that look like mouse turds). It’s all mixed up in a big bowl and it’s not unusual to drink it with a beer. It’s highly unlikely to have the sour cream already mixed in but on rare occasions you might find it find it in a separate bowl or as an added extra.
It’s not common to find Halusky on the menu in Prague. Sometimes it will be called Halusky se Slaninou or Halusky Kapustou (slaninou is bacon and kapusto is cabbage). If it is then you will find the gnocchi and sour cream will be mixed together. The bacon or cured ham is sprinkled on top and the hot sweet cabbage with/without caraway seeds is in a separate bowl. Again it’s a Czech Beer on the side.
In Prague it’s almost impossible to find. In Moravia it’s more common as the restaurant version. Strangely the Slovaks don’t consider this as street food and in all parts of Slovakia this is considered as a National Dish. It’s still the base of potato dumplings but this time it’s mixed with Bryndza cheese (a strong sheep cheese) then on top you get the sprinkled bacon and sometimes chives. You won’t find the sweet cabbage or the caraway seeds because that will mess with the taste of the cheese. Then just when you think that’s it you get the shock of the drink, well shocking for me anyway. When they make Bryndza cheese they keep the milk by-product so that’s what you may be expected to drink, sour milk. Not for me.
If you see the word “Spenát” then that is spinach and the halusky is going to be like the Slovakian version above. In this case whatever cheese is being used (usually a blue cheese) is mixed with the spinach.
Cut real English bacon (Anglicka Slanina) into small pieces and cook so it’s moist but crispy on the outside. Make the Gnocchi from a ready-mix and add the bacon to it. Heat some sweet red cabbage (Cerveny Zeli) and add sour cream (Zakysana smetana) at the end as required. No caraway seeds. Shot of tabasco.
Check the Street Food post for other options.