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29 October 2011

Cheese sticks

Cheese sticks is a fun party food that can be enjoyed by both kids and grown-ups alike.  The crunchy wrapper makes it irresistible to bite, and the cheese inside softened just so makes it a yummy treat.  Interestingly, this is also served as beer food!

We tried to make some just recently, and we discovered some peculiarities which might be of help to you in case you want to make a batch and your cheese is a bit 'strong'.  In the Philippines, the cheddar cheese is somewhat 'flavoured' to our taste; it's a bit mild, sweet even.  It is also more tolerant of cooking.

The cheese which we found here becomes slightly bitter when fried and it also melts easily, leaving a hollow roll of crunchy wrapper.  My wife and I were actually joking about putting a warning label on this dish: Cheese sticks: may or may not contain cheese!

We found simple workarounds to these, as discussed in the procedure.

Cheddar cheese
Sugar (we used brown)
Lumpia wrapper
water on a bowl to seal the wrapper
Cooking oil

I recommend cooking a couple of sticks to test whether or not you need to add sugar.

Cut each sheet of lumpia wrapper into 4 squares.  We prefer using the lumpia wrapper (available from your friendly Asian store) than the siomai wrapper because the latter is too thick.

Cut the cheese into sticks, proportionate to the wrapper (see photos below).  Seal with water dabbed to the end of the wrapper.

Heat up the cooking oil (just enough to submerge the cheese sticks) then fry a couple over medium heat for the testr.

One of the challenges here is avoiding the cheese from melting and oozing out of the wrapper.  I experienced this problem when I tried to brown both sides of the cheese sticks.  When one side has lightly browned, I turned it to submerge the floating side. That's when the cheese would start to ooze.  So the simple solution is, don't brown both sides.  One side is sufficient.  Cooking time is 3-4 minutes.  You will know from the sound of the cooking oil if the cheese has started to ooze.  Adjust your time accordingly for the rest of the batch.

If your samples reveal that the cheese's flavour is accentuated too strongly by the cooking process, then it's time to add sugar.  The extra step is to simply roll the cheese into sugar before wrapping.
Fry in batches, then transfer to strainer or table napkins to drain while cooling off.
Serve and enjoy!

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