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CourseHors d'oeuvre
Place of originGreece

In Greek cuisine, saganaki (Greek σαγανάκι) is any one of a variety of dishes prepared in a small frying pan, the best-known being an appetizer of fried cheese.


The dishes are named for the frying pan in which they are prepared, called a saganaki, which is a diminutive of sagani, a frying pan with two handles, which comes from the Turkish word sahan 'copper dish',[1][2] itself borrowed from Arabic صحن (ṣaḥn).


The cheese used in saganaki is usually graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri,[3] kefalotyri,[3] or sheep's milk feta cheese. Regional variations include the use of formaela cheese in Arachova, halloumi in Cyprus, and vlahotiri in Metsovo. 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

North American serving style[edit]

Saganaki, lit on fire, at the Parthenon Restaurant in Greektown, Chicago

In many United States and Canadian restaurants, after being fried, the saganaki cheese is flambéed at the table (sometimes with a shout of "opa!"[4]), and the flames then usually 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,[5][6][7][8] based on the suggestion of a customer.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Babiniotis, Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας
  2. ^ Triantafyllidis, Λεξικό της κοινής Νεοελληνικής (Triantafyllidis Dictionary)
  3. ^ a b Gayler, Paul (1998-09-15). A Passion for Cheese: More Than 130 Innovative Ways To Cook With Cheese. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-19204-4.
  4. ^ History
  5. ^ The Parthenon: History
  6. ^ "FAMOUS SAGANaKI ... and so much more". Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  7. ^ "Exploring Chicago". University of Illinois at Chicago. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.