halloumi fries – entertaining made easy

halloumi fries - easy to makeI’ve been cooking with halloumi cheese since 2006; we were living in Hong Kong at the time.  I love that city!  It’s one of the few places I could go back to live.  It’s a city that’s frenetic, safe to travel at night, people are generally friendly, amazing food, public transport is swift and timely, mountains surround the city and look down at a stunning harbour.  If you tire of the concrete jungle, beaches and lush greenery are only a 30-minute bus ride away .  The locals work long hours and as a result their form of relaxation includes eating out with family and friends on a weekly basis.  Hong Konger’s love their food and it has to be fresh.  Up until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony and the people of Hong Kong have been used to a Western style of eating for nearly a century.  Grocery stores have the look and feel of western shops with a good mix of European and North American foods to suit not only the expats but the locals, too.  I used to shop at Oliver’s which is where I discovered halloumi cheese. Oliver’s always had something on display for its patrons to sample.  The cheese is from the island of Cyprus and is a semi-hard, brined, and made traditionally from sheep’s milk. It has a high melting point and is perfect for grilling or frying in a pan.  It does not fall apart when placed in hot oil which is a good thing otherwise my halloumi fries would have been a big messy blob!

This dish makes a delicious snack for your next entertaining gig.  Halloumi can be found in most grocery stores, but lately finding Cypriot halloumi might be a challenge as there’s a bit of a shortage.  I was told by a store owner that it won’t be available until next year as their quota has been exhausted.  Halloumi producers in Cyprus have started the process to register it as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) where the sheep/goat milk needs to be a higher percentage of the mix than cows milk.  The halloumi I bought was made in Canada (100% cow’s milk) and unless you can compare the two, side-by-side, the ones made locally are just as good.

Serves 2 to 4
1 package halloumi cheese
oil for frying

Slice cheese to resemble french fries.  Pat dry with kitchen towel. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a shallow, heavy-bottomed pan.  Heat until thermometer reaches 350f (180c) or until a piece of bread browns in 20 seconds.  Carefully add halloumi sticks into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes or until crisp and golden – do not crowd the cheese.  Drain on kitchen paper and repeat process until all cheese sticks are cooked.  Serve immediately and dip with ketchup, aioli, or Greek yogurt.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  These will not last long!  Make these as your guests arrive and let them dig in as they come out of the pan.  Enjoy!