Halloumi is a semi-soft cheese which is closely associated with Cyprus and the Middle East. This cheese is a popular inclusion in many Cypriot dishes, and it is incredibly versatile. Halloumi can be grilled, roasted, fried, or eaten fresh, and it has a mild, vaguely tangy, creamy, slightly salty taste which pairs well with a wide range of foods. Some specialty markets and import stores carry halloumi, and Cypriot producers are sometimes willing to ship it directly to consumers.
Traditional halloumi is made from a blend of sheep and goat milk, which gives the flavor a distinctive tang. Cow’s milk halloumi is growing more common, since cow’s milk is cheaper and it has a more mild flavor. Some producers blend cow, sheep, and goat milk to make their halloumi so that they can retain the tangy flavor but keep their costs down.
Some people compare halloumi to mozzarella, since both cheeses are heat proofed in the curd form, which allows them to be used on the grill or in roasts while retaining their shape. Halloumi also has the classic layered, fibrous texture associated with mozzarella. Typically, the cheese is formed into roughly rounded blocks for sale, and, like fresh mozzarella, halloumi is packaged in brine to keep it free of bacteria until consumers want to use it. Some producers also vacuum pack their halloumi for a longer, and the cheese can be frozen for up to one year.
When halloumi is grilled, it develops a rich golden crust, and while it softens, it does not melt. The cheese also holds it shape when fried; some people like to deep fry small chunks of halloumi to make cheese crispsfor salad and other dishes. Halloumi can also be roasted with vegetables, or sliced into wedges of varying sizes and served fresh. The cheese pairs well with crusty bread, tomatoes, olives, and salads, and many Middle Eastern and Cypriot recipes call for this cheese.