The Greek word Saganaki means frying pan; the aki stands for the size of the pan, which is small. One of our frying pans is actually called Saganaki, in which we make different dishes – usually a meze or snack – carrying the name Saganaki. This frying pan might be small in size, but it’s able to create miracles in taste! My translation for Saganaki would actually be: ‘really lovely savoury super easy recipes’. I am going to share different Saganaki recipes on the blog, but I will start with the most famous: Cheese Saganaki!
The Saganaki recipes are based on any type of cheese that we fry and serve hot and juicy, together with ouzo, tsipoyro or sometimes a cold beer or a glass of wine. Although the most well known recipe is Cheese Saganaki, there are other wonderful variations like Prawn Saganaki, Sausage Saganaki and Egg Saganaki. They are heaven on earth!
After Tefal pans were introduced in Greece, the Saganaki-pan became less important. Only a few old ladies in different parts of Greece are using it. The Saganaki-pan is usually made of cheap aluminum, which heats the dish very fast. This allows the cook to create something very tasty in no time with simple ingredients. The other side of this wonderful story is that the pan is not so easy to clean as the famous Tefal. It usually gets a bit sticky and it needs hard manual work to be cleaned, so no wonder they stopped using it in the kitchen.
I am however not so easy (and very lucky that I am not doing the washing up) and I happen to love the taste of the simple old Saganaki, so I keep using it. If you come to Greece and you find a Saganaki-pan somewhere, I think you should buy it! Keep it in your house and it will always give you the opportunity to make lots of the wonderful Saganaki recipes. Great for evenings when you take out the ouzo bottle. Also, in this way you will always remember the fantastic taste of Greece in your own kitchen.
Making Cheese Saganaki
This recipe starts with choosing the right cheese! The kefalotiri cheese is very nice, but I also like to use the manouri cheese that you see in the pictures. This cheese is made of goat or sheep milk and is quite special. Manouri cheese is primarily made in Central and Northern Greece and a by-product of the feta production.
The cheesemakers add cream to the whey, which makes the cheese more creamy than feta and a bit soft. Manouri cheese is also less salty than feta. It’s absolutely delicious in many recipes, but my favourite for making Cheese Saganaki! Whatever cheese you chose for this recipe, wet the slice in water and put it in the flour. Shake to remove the excess flour.
In a pan (if you don’t have a saganaki use a frying pan) heat the oil over medium heat. Carefully place the cheese in the pan for 2 minutes or until it is golden brown. Turn the cheese around to fry the other side the same way.
When the Cheese Saganaki is ready, serve it hot with a slice of lemon!
You can also drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top, made either with figs or pomegranates.
Enjoy your Cheese Saganaki!!
Photography Annette Spaan
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