There’s an artwork to consuming mezze within the Mediterranean…
…and I’m nonetheless studying it. It goes one thing like this: You go to a restaurant with buddies and all order a couple of dishes every. Then, over the course of some hours, you leisurely eat, savoring every dish because it comes out, taking a few well-earned digestive rests within the center, all the time ordering extra meals than any of you’ll be able to anticipate to eat in a single sitting.
One night time in Istanbul, I used to be taken for dinner at a well-liked meyhane (a phrase derived from the Persian for wine, mey, and home, khaneh). As the etymology suggests, it is a place the place locals come to drink and eat, and the place milky-white glasses of the anise-based spirit raki are sipped alongside cold and hot small plates comparable to stuffed mussels, braised artichokes, grilled sardines, and meat köfte. We ordered a choice of dishes and, as they began popping out, I piled them on my plate, greedily downing one delicacy after one other, relishing the intimacy of choosing the meals up with my fingers and licking them clear after. After some time, I observed my companion had hardly touched her plate and I began to really feel embarrassed. I needn’t have apprehensive; because the night time wore on, she ate excess of I did, however as a result of she had paced herself, she was capable of match extra in. It was a lesson that jogged my memory of the Turkish proverb, “If you are going a long way, go slowly.” With meals nearly as good as this, you’d be a idiot to not.
This is among the hottest mezze dishes I make for my buddies at house, and is an ideal appetizer in my eyes: candy, salty, crunchy, fried. Rectangles of halloumi are dusted in semolina or cornmeal, sautéed till crisp, drizzled with a heat, thyme-infused honey, and topped with crunchy pomegranate seeds. It was impressed by a dish I stored returning to at a restaurant in Nicosia, Cyprus. Let’s be trustworthy, you’ll be able to by no means go improper with fried cheese.
Serves 4, as a part of a mezze
10 1/2 ounces halloumi cheese
1 giant egg
1/4 cup fantastic semolina or cornmeal
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon finely chopped
couple of handfuls of arugula leaves
4 to five contemporary figs, quartered (elective)
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Cut the halloumi into 8 thick slices.
Beat the egg in a small bowl and unfold the semolina or cornmeal out on a plate. Dip the halloumi slices within the overwhelmed egg, then roll them within the semolina or cornmeal in order that they have a crust round them.
Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan till it’s scorching, then fry the halloumi items for a couple of minutes on all sides till they’re golden brown. Place on some paper towel to absorb any extra oil.
Meanwhile, warmth the honey in a small saucepan with the thyme.
Now assemble the dish. Place the arugula on a serving plate and organize the halloumi on prime, nestling the figs round, if utilizing. Drizzle a little bit of the new honey over every slice of halloumi. Finish with a smattering of pomegranate seeds and grind some black pepper excessive.
Yasmin Khan is a journey author, human rights campaigner, and writer of the brand new cookbook, Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, an exploration of how dishes and traditions have migrated throughout borders by way of refugees within the Eastern Mediterranean.
P.S. How to make an epic cheese plate and a rosemary-orange olive oil cake, which looks like the right factor to observe this salad.
(This essay and recipe had been reprinted from Ripe Figs. Published by W.W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.)