Halloumi Cheese: The Swiss Guide to Mastering the Art of Cooking and Enjoying this Unique Delicacy
In the land of the Alps where the love for cheese has woven its way into the cultural fabric, Swiss cheese aficionados are expanding their gourmet horizons beyond emmental, gruyère, and raclette. A cheese from the sunny island of Cyprus, Halloumi, is capturing hearts in Swiss kitchens, eateries, and picnics. In this comprehensive guide, we explore this fascinating cheese, offering tips on how to cook Halloumi and infusing it with a Swiss twist. Sprinkled with delightful facts and culinary inspiration, this blog post aims to whet your appetite for a new cheesy adventure in Switzerland.
Understanding Halloumi Cheese
Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese traditionally made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk, though contemporary versions may also include cow’s milk. Thanks to its high melting point, this unique cheese holds its shape under heat, making it a favourite for grilling and frying. Halloumi’s texture is a unique cross between mozzarella and feta, yielding a slightly rubbery, layered texture. Its taste is distinctively savoury, with a strong salty finish due to the brining process.
The Historical Journey of Halloumi
Before we dive into the Swiss connection, it’s fascinating to take a quick journey through Halloumi’s history. Tracing back to the Medieval Byzantine period, around AD 395, Halloumi originated from the island of Cyprus. Its popularity spread through the Middle East, and more recently, it has become a global sensation. It’s no surprise that this delightful cheese has found its way to Swiss shores, adding to Switzerland’s rich cheese tapestry.
How to Cook Halloumi in Switzerland
A well-prepared Halloumi brings a delightful surprise to the palate, whether served as a standalone dish, a complement to a Swiss cheese platter, or as part of a hearty Swiss meal. Here’s our step-by-step guide:
1. Sourcing Your Halloumi: Specialty cheese shops and supermarkets in Swiss cities such as Zurich, Geneva, or Bern typically carry Halloumi. We highly recommend going to Manor for our Greco Halloumi and Greco Organic Halloumi. Coop’s NaturaPlan Halloumi is a great choice too.
2. Preparing Your Halloumi: First, pat your halloumi with a paper towel to remove excess moister, this will really help give it a better cook once it’s on the grill! Slice your Halloumi into 1cm thick pieces. You can choose to marinate it in a mixture of olive oil, crushed garlic, and fresh Swiss herbs like thyme and rosemary for a Swiss twist.
3. Cooking Your Halloumi: Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. There’s no need for oil, as the cheese will release its own. Place the slices into the pan and cook each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
4. Serving Your Halloumi: There’s a plethora of ways to serve Halloumi in a Swiss setting. Enjoy it with a fresh, vibrant salad, as a topping on a Swiss rösti, or as an intriguing addition to your Swiss cheese board. Its savoury profile pairs wonderfully with a glass of Swiss white wine, such as a crisp Fendant or a luscious Chasselas.
Infusing Swiss Flavours into Halloumi Dishes
Halloumi’s versatility lends itself wonderfully to Swiss cuisine. how about a Halloumi-stuffed rösti, adding a salty, creamy surprise to this iconic Swiss dish?
For the barbecue enthusiasts, Halloumi skewers are a fantastic option. Alternate pieces of Halloumi, bell peppers, and zucchini on a skewer, grill to perfection, and serve with a tangy chutney or sauce. The barbecue smoke infuses the cheese with a heavenly aroma that’s simply irresistible.
Interesting Halloumi Facts to Impress Your Guests
As you serve your Swiss-inspired Halloumi dishes, add a touch of intrigue with these interesting Halloumi facts:
1. Halloumi is often referred to as “the squeaky cheese” due to the sound it makes against the teeth when bitten into.
2. In 2013, the UK surpassed Cyprus in the consumption of Halloumi cheese, highlighting its global popularity.
3. The term ‘Halloumi’ is protected by a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status in the EU, which stipulates that cheese labelled as ‘Halloumi’ must come from Cyprus and adhere to traditional production methods.
Halloumi is more than a cheese; it’s a journey that transports you from the crisp Swiss Alps to the sunny Mediterranean shores. Knowing how to cook Halloumi, Swiss-style, adds a new dimension to your cheese adventures, merging the best of Swiss tradition and international flavours. Remember, cheese isn’t just food in Switzerland; it’s a celebration of culture, heritage, and culinary innovation.