It won’t be surprising if you’ve never heard of Halloumi Cheese if you’ve never been to the Mediterranean region. However, this Cypriot delicacy has recently been in demand across the U.S for its remarkable flavor and texture.
Originally from Cyprus, this semi-hard, brined cheese is popularly used on skewers with kebobs and in salads or sandwiches. It’s a versatile kitchen ingredient, all thanks to its high-melt properties. You can even devour this cheese pan-fried to achieve the perfect crispy outside with a stringy and chewy inside.
But what does Halloumi cheese taste like?
This article will help you better understand this Mediterranean classic, its flavor, and how to use it in the kitchen.
What Does Halloumi Cheese Taste Like?
Halloumi stands out from most other varieties of cheese due to its curd-like texture and intense tangy flavor. While at first, it appears like a plain, firm block of cheese, it’s seasoned with salt and sometimes even mint to enhance its overall flavor.
Fresh halloumi cheese tastes salty and mildly bitter. In contrast, cooked halloumi takes up a delicious savory flavor profile with a soft and creamy texture. To get the maximum out of this cheese, you should try it cooked!
While grilling cheese seems strange, it’s the perfect method to get a silky texture from halloumi cheese. Unlike the other varieties, it doesn’t melt immediately; instead, it gains a hint of smokiness along with a beautiful, thick mouthfeel. Once grilled, it tastes mild, rich, and salty – all at once. Comparatively, fried halloumi takes up a springy texture with a crusty exterior.
Some of the best ways to enjoy this Cypriot cheese is to have it thinly sliced in salads or over bread. For an authentic Mediterranean feel, you can also throw in grilled halloumi slices in a fresh watermelon salad. No matter how you prepare it, halloumi remains slightly tangy in flavor. However, the intensity of its sourness depends on how long you age it.
The tanginess that halloumi brings comes from the brining process. Although it develops a slightly bitter and salty flavor, there are ways to mellow down the taste. You can try uncooked or fresh halloumi for a milder flavor; however, it does taste plain and rubbery. But, once cooked to perfection, the saltiness subsides and transforms into delicious savory notes. You also get to enjoy a crisp exterior that’s reminiscent of toasted marshmallows!
Overall, whether grilled or fried, halloumi is truly fantastic!
What Is Halloumi Cheese Similar To?
If you’re looking for a substitute for halloumi, some of the closest substitutes are Queso Para Frier, Paneer, tofu, and feta. Other alternatives include provolone, Saganaki, Kefalotyri, Queso Panela, and Queso Blanco. Like halloumi, they have high melting points, so they won’t overpower dishes with their cheesy flavors.
Some even liken halloumi to goat cheese because of its sour characteristics.
Since halloumi is made from sheep and goat milk, it has a mildly tangy and salty flavor profile. If you want to mimic the same flavor, you can go for mozzarella; but keep in mind that it has a low melt point.
Is Halloumi Cheese Tasty?
Halloumi is a flavorsome cheese, the highlight being its velvety texture. But its flavor depends on whether you’re consuming it raw or cooked.
Cooked halloumi picks up deeper, richer flavor notes! Moreover, it doesn’t melt when heated but rather turns creamier. It’s a delicious option when grilled, seared, fried, or baked!
On the other hand, fresh or uncooked halloumi tastes like a cross between goat cheese and feta; milder but tasty, nonetheless. But, if raw halloumi cheese doesn’t do it for you, try it grilled or fried before forming an opinion about its flavor and texture.
If salty, fried cheeses are more of your style, then halloumi is an excellent choice. You can also spice things up by adding your favorite flavorings and herbs. Our top recommendations include cumin, coriander seeds, salt, and pepper.
With a high melting point, this tangy, citrusy cheese holds a firm texture even when fried, grilled, or baked. Once you have it this way, you’ll be serving halloumi cheese for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between!
Halloumi cheese tastes nuttier as it ages; it gains a tangy, cheesy aroma that goes well with salads, kebobs, and sandwiches.