Sunday, October 18, 2009
Oh, the charm of fresh slabs of creamy, white fried halloumi with those scorched brown lines in it – warm and soft, the slight tang of the raw cheese transformed by its cooking.
Fried halloumi, 'halloum meshwe' in Arabic, is traditionally part of a Levantine mezze. Like much of Levantine cuisine, everyone claims it as their own, but it's thought that halloumi is 'properly' Cypriot. Halloumi dates back to the Byzantine period and that great mix of ideas, thought and culture that took place in the Eastern Mediterranean and traditionally has flecks of mint in it - mint was originally used to store the cheese and keep it fresh.
There’s no great secret to fried halloumi. Slice the cheese, about 1cm thickness or just under (if you slice it too thin, it’ll get messy when you cook it) heat up the grill pan and place the slices on the hot pan. Fry them for a minute or so before turning them over with a spatula, using a swift, confident stroke and uttering a sharp ‘Ha!’ just to let the cheese know who’s boss.
Some people apparently dust the cheese slices with flour. I think this is unnecessary myself.
It’s nice served with drinks as well. It’s also great barbecued and gives everyone something to nibble on while you’re getting all alpha male with the slabs of meat.