Bulgarian Fried Cheese or Kashkaval Pane is an appetizer that is made by breading and frying kashkaval cheese. Kashkaval is Bulgaria's popular yellow, semi-hard cheese made from sheep's milk that can be spicy or bland. It's great for grating, cooking and melting, and is similar to Italian pecorino or Greek kasseri, but can variously taste like provolone and even pungent blue cheese (without any hint of mold).
If kashkaval cheese isn't available, Italian provolone or fontina, or halloumi from Cyprus can be used.
Kashkaval Pane is an Eastern European street food favored for its portability and crunchy, melty goodness. It's also popular in pubs and clubs, and is similar to Czech Syr Smazeny except the Czech variation is made with Edam, Gouda or Swiss cheese.
Another way to enjoy Kashkaval is in this Eastern European grilled cheese sandwich on dark rye bread. Read more about Bulgarian cheeses and dairy products, below, after the directions to this recipe.
- 1 pound kashkaval (or provolone, fontina, or halloumi cheese)
- 2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (as needed)
- 2 to 3 large eggs (beaten)
- 2 to 3 cups breadcrumbs (fresh, or panko crumbs or matzo meal)
- Garnish: flat-leaf parsley or lovage
- Pour canola oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet and heat until it reaches 350 degrees (use a fryer thermometer if possible). Meanwhile, cut 1 pound of kashkaval cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dredge slices first in flour, then in beaten eggs and finally in bread crumbs, panko or matzo meal.
- Fry cheese in batches, turning once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately, garnished with parsley or lovage.
Bulgarian Cheeses and Dairy Products
Bulgarian cheeses are made from cow's milk, sheep's milk, and goat's milk. In addition to kashkaval, the most popular Bulgarian cheeses include:
Bulgarian Brinza Cheese: Brinza is another popular cheese in Bulgaria. It's a salty sheep's milk cheese similar to Bulgarian feta (sirene) that is spreadable when young and crumbly when it's aged. It's good in salads or melted.
Bulgarian Sirene or Feta Cheese: Bulgarian feta cheese (sirene) is a white brined cheese made with sheep or cow's milk and considered by some to be superior to Greek feta. Sirene is said to have originated in the Trakia region in southern Bulgaria. It is used in everything from shopska salata to savory banitza (see below for links to these recipes).
Bulgarian Yellow Cheeses: These include Vitosha made with cow's milk, Venetsia made from cow's milk or sheep's milk, Cleopatra made from sheep's milk or cow's milk, and smoked kalina made from cow's milk and smoked with oak.
Bulgarian Yogurt: Bulgarian yogurt is legendary for its health benefits. Known as kiselo mliako (literally meaning "sour milk"), this yogurt is created by the lactobacterium bulgaricum bacteria, one that grows nowhere else in the world, which is why some say it's the best-tasting yogurt in the world. Bulgarians use yogurt in everything from soup to dessert and drink it in a beverage known as ajran.