Easy, 10-Minute Greek Saganaki Recipe
Delicious Fried Cheese to Make You Go "Mmmmmm"!
If you haven't fried cheese in a frypan yet, you're in for a real treat with saganaki! I recently met a Greek man who showed me how to fry saganaki the easy way and the flavour is fantastic.
Saganaki cheese is a great way to bring out the caramelized flavour of the cheese on the surface, while retaining a salty extra deep cheese flavour on the inside. This cheese is served hot and sizzling as a Greek entrée. It can be rather filling, so only a few pieces are needed.
When you fry cheese, you get the most out of the flavour. It is 110% better than just eating the cheese unfried. Imagine the difference between eating a flavourless square mishmash from some cheese corporation vs a homemade, matured brie with white wine. It is THAT big of a difference!
Choosing Saganaki Cheese
Get your tastebuds ready to tango with this sizzling entrée!
Firstly, you will need to pick your cheese. Select one from the box on the right.
There are probably many choices of cheese spelling, but you get the idea. Each type of cheese tastes different, so there is definitely a smorgasboard to try. I enjoy Kasar cheese the most out of all of these, because it has a distinctive, briny flavour.
The main differences are in the flavour and the texture—some are saltier than others, while some have a firmer texture than others. If you are a beginner with saganaki, halloumi cheese is a good choice as it won't melt as easily.
Pick one of these:
- Kassar or Kasar cheese
- Kefelogreviera or Graviera cheese
- Kefalotyri or Kefalotiri cheese
- Kasseri cheese
- Halloumi cheese (from Cyprus)
- Any kind of labelled “Saganaki” cheese
- Saganaki Cheese
- Dried oregano
- Refined salt
- Ground pepper
- Olive oil, for frying
- Paper towel
- Make the plate. Put oregano, ground pepper and refined salt on a plate or in a bowl and mix it up with a teaspoon.
- Cut cheese into 1cm widths (it doesn't matter what shape it is—wedges or rectangles) and coat both sides in the herbal mix.
- Wipe non-stick frying pan with olive oil on a paper towel. Keep oil to a minimum. Place the cheese in the cold frying pan. Turn on the heat to maximum.
- Cook until cheese is brownish on the underside, making sure it doesn’t melt too much (a bit around the edges is fine). If it does start melting a lot and losing its shape, remove immediately from heat and flip the cheese.
- Flip cheese over, if you haven’t done so already and brown the other side.
- When lightly browned and a little crispy, transfer to serving plate.
- Squeeze lots of lemon juice over the saganaki and serve hot, as hot as possible. If you have any hot serving plates, then bring them out, prewarm them and serve the saganaki on them for the best effect!
More Ways of Cooking Saganaki
- Seared Saganaki: Try grilling it in a grillpan for searing marks and a nice effect when presenting to guests. You will need to cut the cheese wedges thicker for this – about 1.5m - to 2cm thickness. Cook for longer too.
- Coated Saganaki: Breadcrumbing this cheese before frying is a great way to make it more of a meal when presenting with salads on a plate. Dip cheese in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs before frying until crisp.
- Saganaki Marinara: Use sheep’s milk feta cheese to make a marinara saganaki. Cook tomato paste with herbs and spices, then place shrimps, prawns or mussels along with cubed feta into the frypan and cook for 10 minutes. Serve with bread and a glass of white wine.
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Impress Guests With Flaming Saganaki
Make as above, then use a separate container to pour alcohol Ouzo (anise aperatif) or Metaxa (Greek brandy) onto the cheese in the frypan, light the alcohol and carry to the table in a flaming saganaki. You can also light the saganaki at the table.
NOTE: Make sure your roof is high so you don’t end up with a burnt roof. Do not pour alcohol straight from the bottle onto the cheese in the frypan, as it can result in explosion, fire or burns.
Origins of Saganaki
Saganaki was invented in Greece or Turkey, but has evolved into becoming known throughout history as a Greek dish. It is recorded that in the 1800s, it was served in the Ouzerias (tavernas) of Greece.
It is a common entrée in the Mediterranean and is also found in Egypt, as a signature dish of Alexandria.
The word “saganaki” comes from the name of the traditional two-handled frying pan used to cook it—either the “sagani” in Greek or the “sahan” in Turkish.
The first flaming saganaki was served in 1968 at The Parthenon Restaurant in Greektown, Chicago. Since then, it has become a popular restaurant dish in the USA.
Saganaki is a divine, delicious cheese creation that can easily be made in 10 minutes. My thanks to the Mediterranean people who invented this amazing flavour. I hope you find saganaki as easy to make as I do and I think that once you try it—you will want it in your life regularly...
© 2013 Suzanne Day