Monday, February 25, 2008

Who Fried the Cheese?

Fried Halloumi, native to Cyprus, may be the only food where the word "squeaky" comes up when people are describing this unique cheese. Halloumi is traditionally made from goat and sheep's milk, and is similar to a mozzarella, but denser, saltier, and…squeakier. Let me explain.

What makes Halloumi unusual is it's very high melting point. Because of how the curd is heated, then brined and pressed, the cheese can be fried without melting. This makes for a very cool appetizer or meze, as they would call it in Cyprus. This video recipe I did for shows my favorite way of preparing Halloumi. I think it's best when seared in a very hot pan, nice and brown, and then drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Oh, and about this "squeakiness;" when you bite into the warm, fried cheese, it makes a slight squeak against your teeth. I find the sound and sensation oddly addictive. But, that's just part of the fun - the firm texture, and salty flavor, work great with the sweet balsamic vinegar and cherry tomatoes. Before you send me the "but, where do I find Halloumi cheese?" comments and emails, I'll tell you it's quite common in any high-end
chain grocery store that has a cheese department (which they all do). So get some Halloumi, and get your squeak on. Enjoy!
Click here for the transcript and ingredients.


Julie said...

I love fried Halloumi and you are right Chef John a great deal of the attraction is the squeak.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, it seems Toronto's strangely lacking in high-end grocery stores (but don't tell the grocers that!) I've been unable to find real Halloumi here, but did come across a cow's milk version.

You forgot that cheese curd is also known for its squeak! This must be just as addictive.

Unknown said...

I love halloumi too especially with roast vegetables. I would try it with balsamic vinegar next time.
Thanks for sharing:-)


Job Poster said...


You can find hallumi in arab grocery stores.

I believe middle easterns eat more hallumi than greeks.

Unknown said...

This looks really good-must look for the cheese. Just wanted to say that Finland also has a "squeaky" cheese that sounds similar. I found it to be addictive as well.
Thanks for the videos, they are enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

The reason why Halloumy does not melt has to do with fact that the protein isn't really much fermented by bacteria. It is a fresh sweet curd pickled in brine. (The other meltability factor is fat content - but halloumi has aparently plenty of that).

You know how ripe Limburger oozes out when cut - it is because the protein chains were chopped into pieces and dephosphorylated by the stink-producing germs :)

Chef John said...

yeah, that's what I thought.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John! Delicious Recipe as always. WOW! Your getting pretty famous. :P I enjoyed the vids.

PS) Do you think you could bring back the weekend fillers?

Chef John said...

Thanks! I'll see what I can do. I guess no days off!

Nachos Rule Forever said...

How come nobody has commented on CJs funny word play title. Could this be the very first title of a Foodwishes post that dips it's toes into the endless pool of hilarity that is fart jokes?! Here is to hoping.

wednesdayperson said...

Thanks for devoting one of your posts to the beauty that is Cypriot food. Few people realize just how different Cypriot food is from Greek food. I'm lucky enough to have ONE package of Halloumi left in the freezer from my last trip to Cyprus, and I'm just waiting for a late summer evening to fry it up. For a truly Cypriot experience, try serving the fried cheese with a salad of finely chopped parsley, onion, and tomato, seasoned with olive oil, the juice of a lemon, salt, and pepper.

Maria said...

In the summer we eat it cold with slices of fresh sweet watermelon. The sweetness of the fruit with the saltyness of the halloumi, yumm. Try it!