Halloumi sticks with a sweet, spicy and tangy dipping sauce
We grew up eating so much cheese, one could imagine that we might be sick of it. But really, how could anyone tire of the endless variety of wonderful Greek cheeses, and the countless ways they can be enjoyed. Oh sure, we would sometimes find a block of orange cheddar in the refrigerator, but we were much more likely to find feta, kefalotiri, kefalograviera, mizithra and halloumi; Greek cheese heaven.
So many cheese options of course gives rise to so many possibilities. Not satisfied with simply nibbling on a chunk of cheese while sipping wine (or juice), our parents used cheese in a wide variety of recipes. The tyropita was always a staple, as were baked feta, sesame coated fried feta and kalitsounia. Their wonderful ways with cheese inspire us to create recipes and to tweak old ones so that they seem new again; these halloumi fries are an example of that.
Although we often had halloumi growing up, our parents tended to grill it either on the outdoor grill or in a frying pan in the kitchen; halloumi loves that. Treating halloumi this way leads to all sorts of delights, such as a favourite citrus salad with fried halloumi, a wonderful salad any time of year. A Cypriot cheese, halloumi is unique as it has a very high melting point, allowing it to be heated through quite significantly without turning into a gooey mess. This is a semi-hard, unripened cheese usually made from a combination of sheep and goat’s milk. If you’ve never eaten halloumi, you should know a few more things about it. First, it is very salty, and it’s squeaky; it literally squeaks when you chew it. So, halloumi as a midnight snack, secretly being munched on in bed, may not be the best idea (Theoretically of course! It’s not like we would ever do such a thing!)
We love the versatility and flavour (and even the texture) of halloumi so much that we felt we had to give halloumi fries a try. Think of them as Greek mozzarella sticks, only different (you know, because there is no mozzarella). The combination of spiced flour and semolina coating, served with a sweet, tangy and spicy dipping sauce make these cheese fries fancy enough for entertaining, and simple enough to be enjoyed all on your own.
The reason that the flour and semolina coating sticks to the halloumi so well is because the cheese is wet. If you have removed the halloumi from its packaging and have sliced it in advance of frying it, cover the cheese either with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to keep it moist. If the cheese does dry out and the flour/semolina coating has a hard time adhering to it, simply run the halloumi under a bit of water.
This really is a dish that is best served immediately. The halloumi will toughen up again as it cools, and the dipping sauce will congeal, making it more spreadable than dip-able. If you do happen to have any halloumi fries and dipping sauce left over however (unlikely), you can give them a few seconds in the microwave.
Serving immediately can also mean very hot cheese. Please test these halloumi fries before serving them to young children or the very elderly. They should be warm, but not dangerously hot. Eat responsibly friends.
Mia Kouppa: Halloumi fries with a citrus lime mint dipping sauce
- Halloumi, cut into 10 – 12 sticks, each of which are approximately 1/2 thick and the length of a regular french fry
- 1/4 cup fine ground semolina
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- vegetable oil for frying For the dipping sauce:
- 1/2 cup prepared (or store bought) citrus marmalade
- 1/2 tablespoon grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pot and heat over medium heat until you achieve a liquid consistency. Lower the heat and allow your sauce to simmer while you prepare and fry your halloumi. Stir your sauce from time to time to make sure that it does not burn on the bottom of the pan.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, semolina, oregano and paprika, and stir well until combined.
- Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a non stick pan. The oil should be approximately 1/2 inch deep.
- Add the halloumi to the flour mixture, a few pieces at a time, and toss to coat.
- Carefully add the halloumi fries to the hot oil being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook over medium high heat for approximately 5 – 7 minutes, until the halloumi sticks are golden brown on all sides.
- Transfer the halloumi to a paper towel lined bowl so that the excess oil can be removed.
- Pour the sauce into a small dipping bowl. Transfer the halloumi fries to a new bowl or plate and serve immediately.
- (Remember to check the temperature of the halloumi fries before serving them to young children or the elderly). Enjoy.