Gypsy Goulash

When you’re in the backcountry, sometimes you don’t have a lot, but you need something fast, tasty and hot. This is a simple, highly adaptable dish that can be made almost anywhere, with a wide variety of ingredients.

This version uses kidney beans, but any kind will do. Only the eggs and tomatoes are essential. It’s based on a substantially fancier version of a Chinese peasant dish I first read about in the New York Times; this version is much simpler and designed for the cook who has very little to work with.

Gypsy Goulash

Serves 2-3


1 can of whole tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

2 eggs

1 tsp sugar

1 small onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 cup rice

butter or oil

ketchup or barbecue sauce

1 tsp vinegar

¼ cup wine


salt and pepper


Cook rice as instructed on package. If using a camp fire, not a cook stove, I’ve found cooking over a low fire works best for this (sometimes too a hot a fire can make your rice rather… crispy).

Mince the onions and garlic. Set aside.

When rice is nearly ready, put a deep cast iron pan on the cookstove/grill. Let it get nice and hot, add oil or butter. Toss in the onions and garlic, stir and allow to get golden. Add in wine and vinegar now if available, then the can of tomatoes and beans. Add ketchup or barbecue sauce, salt and pepper and Sriracha to taste, then sugar. Cover and allow to reduce to a thick sauce – taste periodically. It should be sweet and a little spicy, so add a little more sugar or Sriracha to adjust the flavour.

Heat a small pan while the sauce is reducing. Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat. Oil the pan liberally, drop beaten eggs in and very lightly cook for one minute until the eggs are just barely set. Pour the still-runny eggs into the saucepan, stir gently, cover and cook 2 to 3 more minutes to finish the eggs. The consistency should be almost creamy with the addition of the eggs.

  • Remove from heat. Serve over rice.

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