Have you ever tried saganaki?

Option: Saganaki—it never tastes better!

Saganaki—a hot cheese snack that is fried in a pan or baked on a grill. This is one of the most famous traditional dishes in Greece and, of course, in Crete: it can be ordered in any tavern. Saganaki is usually served as an aperitif, before meals, or as one of the appetizers—meze. The dish is simple: it cooks in just a few minutes and is eaten even faster!

The word “saganaki” comes from the Greek name for a small frying pan with two handles. On menu you can often find “Saganaki Shrimp” or “Saganaki Mussels”: it turns out that this word means a way to cook this or that product; however, pans are now used in a variety of configurations. If the menu simply says saganaki, do not hesitate, we are talking about fried cheese; and no matter how strange it may seem to fry cheese for a newcomer in Crete—it is very tasty!

There are quite a few types of saganaki cheese. In Crete, they consume cheeses such as feta, kefalotyri, halloumi and even graviera. In the last century, special ways of serving fried cheese appeared: in a flaming skillet. Cheese is fried directly in burning oil and served to table. Lemon juice acts as the final chord; and in some modern recipes they began to use beer, and even to sprinkle the finished cheese meal with ouzo. Toasted cheese pieces with a golden crust are very fragrant!

Feta cheese can be fried just in flour, in batter with egg, in breadcrumbs, in batter with sesame seeds, in hot honey sauce: in general, there are many options. By the same principle, any hard yellow cheese turns into saganaki, but then the dish will be called “tyri saganaki”, that is, “saganaki cheese (τυρί)”.

Fried feta with honey and sesame seeds

Saganaki feta with honey and sesame seeds is a very appetizing Greek treat. Fried cheese in breading goes well with honey, so it literally melts in your mouth. Try to cook: it’s easy and simple!

Cut the cheese into slices about 1.5 cm thick. Wipe them dry with a paper towel. Pour the flour onto a plate. Add pepper, paprika and mix. Beat 1-2 eggs.

Put all the cheese slices in the flour mixture and turn them over. Roll them in the egg and then again in the flour. The final touch is to sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Heat a frying pan with butter and put cheese on it. Please note: the oil should cover one third of each piece. Fry the cheese on both sides until golden brown.

It is better to put the finished cheese on a paper towel, which soaks up excessive oil, and to pour appetizing slices with honey before serving.

You should serve saganaki hot and with half a lemon (Greeks squeeze lemon on cheese already at the table). If you desire, you can decorate saganaki with tomatoes, lettuce and salad herbs.

If you are unable to find feta, you can replace it with any hard cheese or goat cheese. Enjoy your meal!

April 2020