Place of origin
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The cheese used in cheese saganaki is usually graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri, or sheep's milk feta cheese. Regional variations include the use of formaella cheese in Arachova and halloumi cheese in Cyprus. The cheese is melted in a small frying pan until it is bubbling and generally served with lemon juice and pepper. It is eaten with bread.
Other dishes cooked in a saganaki pan include shrimp saganaki (Greek: γαρίδες σαγανάκι, garídes saganáki), and mussels saganaki (Greek: μύδια σαγανάκι, mýdia saganáki), which are typically feta-based and include a spicy tomato sauce.
In many United States and Canadian restaurants, after being fried, the saganaki cheese is flambéed at the table (sometimes with a shout of "opa!"), and the flames then extinguished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This is called "flaming saganaki" and apparently originated in 1968 at The Parthenon restaurant in Chicago's Greektown, based on the suggestion of a customer to owner Chris Liakouras.
Similar dishes elsewhere
The fried-cheese saganaki is common throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in areas that have traditionally had a large Greek population. In Egypt, جبنة مقلية (gibnah maqlyah; lit. "fried cheese") prepared in the same fashion is a common appetizer and seen as a specialty of Alexandria.
- Babiniotis, Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας
- The Parthenon: History
- "Exploring Chicago". University of Illinois at Chicago. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- Zeldes, Leah A (2002-09-30). "How to Eat Like a Chicagoan". Chicago's Restaurant Guide (Chicago's Restaurant Guide). Archived from the original on 2002-10-01. Retrieved 2002-09-30.
- Zeldes, Leah A. (Aug 27, 2009). "Opaa! Chicago Taste of Greece flies this weekend". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc. Retrieved Aug 28, 2009.