There's something inexplicably relaxing about watching food come to life, and this Middle Eastern string cheese is no exception. Probably because it's a lot more complex and requires plenty more craft than the ease at which we'll shred it apart to eat later.
This particular Middle Eastern string cheese is inspired by majdouli, using the same twisting and brining method to get a salty flavor and creamy texture, but minus the usual nigella seeds.
Instead, for flavor, Foodbeast friend and chef Jason Quinn added flavors like caramelized raisins, za'atar, olive oil, and lemon, with the cheese acting as a salty canvas for all of the other ingredients to intermingle deliciously together.
While getting the braiding process right may take a few tries, making this cheese on your own will feel almost effortless once you do get it going.
To give making your own Middle Eastern string cheese a shot, peep the recipe below.
For the Cheese
- 350 grams diced mozzarella curd
- Plenty of hot water (between 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit)
- More room temp water for the saturation brine (a couple quarts at least)
- Plenty of salt for the saturation brine (start with about a pound, just in case)
For the Toppings
- 2 cups raisins
- Hot Water for the raisins
- 1 cup honey
- Lemon juice for garnish
- Za'atar for garnish
- Olive oil for garnish
- Toasted pine nuts for garnish
- Prior to making the cheese, soak your raisins in hot water and then drain off and dry. Bring the honey up to 270 degrees Fahrenheit, then pour over the raisins. You can vacuum seal and let cool for a couple days, or just let them cool and use them the same day.
- Make your saturation brine by adding salt to room temperature water until the water can't dissolve any more salt and it starts to settle at the bottom of your container. You want enough to hold as much cheese as you want to make!
- Add the diced mozzarella curd to your hot water and let sit for at least two minutes. Drain off the water and repeat once.
- Use the back of a wooden spoon to begin pushing the curds together as they melt into a single ball in hot water. Be careful with your hands!
- Once you have a single ball, give it a quick massage to ensure there are no lumps, and form a hole in the middle like a donut or bagel. Immediately start to stretch out.
- Stretch the cheese as far out as you can, then bring it back to the middle to pull out and double the number of strings you have. You want to do this 8 times to get the appropriate amount of braids.
- Shake the braids clean of excess water carefully, then twist each end in alternating directions to bring all the threads together into a single braid. Tie off the two ends together.
- Transfer the cheese braids to your saturation brine, where it should sit for at least 90 minutes to two hours.
- When you're ready to serve, shred the cheese onto a plate and top in the following order: Za'atar, toasted pine nuts, your honey caramelized raisins from earlier, lemon juice, and finally some olive oil.
- Pick it up with your hands and enjoy!