Fried Cheese. Are there two more beautiful words in the English language?! Everyone today is obsessed with pancakes, but I am still thinking of this gorgeous treat from the weekend. Don’t worry, I will be gorging on pancakes later. For now however, I want to tell you about Halloumi Fries.
I first came across this delicious treat on social media last year where there were pictures popping up from a market in London. Then last week, BBC Good Food shared out a link again to their recipe and I just had to go experimenting. I’m so glad I did. These are a cheese lovers dream: crispy on the outside, soft and gooey in the middle.
Halloumi, or squeaky cheese, is vegetarian and the perfect cheese for these as it fries beautifully. It doesn’t actually melt but goes soft in the middle. Halloumi is quite salty which is why I haven’t added any extra to the recipe. This cheese takes strong flavours very well so you could pair it with any herbs or spices you like. The BBC recipe uses Harissa and you know what a fan I am of that spice paste, so I fully advocate that. I was thinking back to this Smoked Paprika Chicken Salad, and thought paprika would be great with halloumi. I added sumac to complement the mellow spiciness. This is a mild lemony flavoured spice, common in Middle Eastern cooking. Really, these Halloumi Fries could be adapted in many ways so experiment away. Just make sure to come back and share your take on them!
*Update: I made these Halloumi Fries for the National Dairy Council’s Cheese up your Life competition in May 2017. Here is a little video to accompany National Cheese Week. For all of the finalists recipes click here to the National Dairy Council’s website.
Useful tips & links:
- It is vital that these fries are eaten immediately. Once they start to go cold the cheese firms up again and you really want that gooey interior. I gave himself a few to keep him happy while I took the pictures but they cooled a bit by the time we got around to eating them. Them’s the joys of being married to a food blogger!
- Since I got my hands on Aleppo Pepper or Pul Biber I have been putting it on everything! It is a mild fruity spice and I purchased it from Sous Chef here. If you can’t get it, some extra paprika mixed with a little cayenne pepper will do as a substitute. Sumac should be easily available in most supermarkets now.
- After eating this I looked over to my chopping board where there were some beautifully sliced spring onions. I had totally forgotten to put them on but to be honest, it didn’t need them. Add them if you like.
- I’ve said that this serves 2. That would be for a very generous starter or snack. I’m not suggesting a main course consisting solely of fried cheese, although I’d secretly admire you if you did go for it.
- Link here to the BBC Good Food recipe for their Halloumi Fries.
- Sunflower or vegetable oil
- 250g block of halloumi cheese
- 3 tablespoons of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of sumac, plus more for the yogurt
- 50ml of natural yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- The juice of ½ a lime
- Mint or coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon of Aleppo Pepper flakes or Pul Biber
- A handful of pomegranate arils or seeds
- Start by heating your oil in a small saucepan. You need about 5cm of oil in the pan, enough to completely submerge the cheese. It needs to come to 180c or test it by dropping in a piece of bread which should sizzle and turn golden brown quickly, but not burn.
- Next prepare the halloumi. Slice the block of cheese and cut into ‘chips’ approx 1cm thick. If your cheese is very crumbly you might want to cut it a bit thicker to hold the pieces together.
- Mix the flour, smoked paprika and sumac together. These chips need to be well coated so roll them in the flour mixture and make sure they are completely covered. Pat some of the seasoning on if you like as you will lose some in the oil while you are frying it.
- Mix the yogurt with a pinch of sumac and set aside. In another small bowl mix together the pomegranate molasses, honey and lime juice. Taste to make sure it is not too tart, add a little more honey if you would like it to be sweeter. You can make a dip by swirling the pomegranate mix through the yogurt if you like or keep them separate and drizzle them over the fries.
- When the oil is hot enough, gently lower in a few fries. Don’t put too many in together as the temperature of the oil will drop and your fries won’t crisp up as much as you want. Use a tongs to keep the fries separate in the oil as you don’t want them sticking together. When the fries are a nice golden brown colour remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper while you fry up the remaining cheese.
- Serve the Halloumi Fries immediately with a dip to the side or drizzle over the yogurt and pomegranate dressings. Scatter the Aleppo Pepper, pomegranate seeds and coriander or mint leaves over the top.