Hungarian paprika and caraway seeds jump-start the flavor development of this comforting stew. Slideshow: More Stew Recipes
In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate, leaving fat in pan.
Season beef with salt and pepper. In batches, add beef to pot, and cook in bacon fat over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to plate with bacon.
Add 1/4 cup of water and onions to pot. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up browned bits, until all liquid is evaporated and onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Add paprika, tomato paste, and caraway seeds; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add 7 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar; return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Bring the goulash to a boil, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for 11/2 hours.
Add potatoes and bell pepper to pot, and simmer, partially covered, over low heat until beef is very tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 hour.
Stir in fish sauce, if using, and remaining 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and rye bread.
The goulash can be cooled, covered, then chilled for up to 2 days.
Delicious. Loved the combination of flavors with cider vinegar, fish sauce, and a hearty helping of paprika.