Kids in the Halloumi
I first discovered halloumi cheese in South Africa last year. A trendy SA chain called News Cafe serves an avocado salad with fried halloumi, grilled brinjal and peppadews. Since I didn’t know what any of those things were, I had to try it. I ended up making several return trips for this amazing fried cheese.
For the record, brinjal is just eggplant, and peppadew is a spicy red pepper native to South Africa. But that’s beside the point, because halloumi was the real discovery. This super-salty, extra-firm-but-slimy goat/sheep’s milk cheese is actually from Cyprus, and if you try to say otherwise, the Halloumi Police will get you.
I’m not sure why it’s so prevalent in South Africa, but I have never noticed it stateside before, so when I spied it at the co-op last week, I jumped for it.
In taste, it’s probably most similar to a queso blanco, and like that Mexican cheese, it’s most exciting because it can be fried or grilled. A few recipes around the web recommend dipping it in flour, but I just tried it straight up and got this nice golden brown after frying thin slices for about a minute each side in extra virgin. The outside is a crisp golden brown and the inside is just a tad melty.
Since I didn’t have any peppadews lying around, I made my own version of the salad, with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and of course, pine nuts.
*This post is tagged both Greek and Middle Eastern for redundancy’s sake, not as an attempt to fuel any cheese-related territorial conflicts.