Wednesday, August 12, 2009


On Iron Chef a few weeks ago, Michael Symon used something intriguing. Alton Brown explained that it was halloumi, a Cypriot cheese with a special distinction: it has a relatively high melting point, and can, therefore, be seared. You can throw this cheese (which, if authentic, is non-cow, so it's safe for people with casein allergies or light lactose intolerance) in a hot pan (or even on the grill), and the outside of it gets crispy and golden-brown, while the inside slightly softens. The result is a beautiful thing.

It took me a while to finally procure some halloumi; I think other people who saw the episode also made a run on Central Market to try it out. I finally got some last week, though, and got the chance to try it out today.

The halloumi that was left by the time I thought to take a photo of it.

OHMYGODTHATWASSOGODDAMGOOD. It's like a little grilled cheese sandwich, or maybe a cracker with cheese melted inside of it. Either way, it's yummy, and just so interesting.

If you track down some halloumi and decide to try it out yourself, I recommend this:
  • Cut it into ~1 cm thick pieces. You should probably then cut those pieces diagonally (I didn't). Basically, make them roughly cracker-sized, but thicker (the thicker pieces had more gooey yummy cheese in the middle).
  • Sear each side for a little under 2 minutes (about 1:45 seemed to be best, but I wasn't careful about it).
That's all. Top it with whatever you feel like topping it with. I used some leftover basil leaves and slivered almonds to make some pestoish stuff, which was good, but get creative. I think my next try will be to copy the Isaac Newton sandwich at B.D. Riley's, and top the cheese with bacon and green apple slices. I'll let you know how that goes, but I'm having a premonition that it'll be awesome.

Let me know in the comments if you try it out, or if you have any other ideas for what to do with it.


Nate said...

This stuff is really great. I haven't thought about it in a while but an old labmate of mine was from the Turkish side of Cyprus and he and his friends would smuggle a bunch of it back to the states (hidden and undeclared in their luggage and frozen rock solid to keep on the journey). God damn that was good.

A tip: you can get it in the freezers at Phoenicia (on Burnet) for maybe half the price as they sell it at HEB.

Another tip: putting it on a skewer with some beef cubes, tomatoes and onions on the grill is just about the best thing you can make ever.

Jon Harmon said...

Thanks for the Phoenicia tip; I didn't think to check there!

McCarron said...

Ok, this sounds awesome. Will check it out and report!

Jon Harmon said...

Austinites: Sarah's on Burnet also has relatively cheap (and plentiful) halloumi.

Non-Austinites: If you have a Mediterranean market, that seems to be the place to go for halloumi.