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Kashkaval is a type of straw-colored cheese that is either made from cow's or sheep's milk. The word has its roots in the Italian caciocavallo, and it is used as a generic term in Romania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia to refer to yellow cheeses. This semihard cheese is also found in Hungary, Croatia, and Turkey. Known also as the "cheddar cheese of the Balkans" because of its similarity in taste, it is typically dark yellow and has a smooth surface. It is known as cascaval in Romania, kasseri in Greece and Ksara in Turkey.
The cheese has a nutty flavor, is slightly salty, and is a good source of calcium. Around 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of milk is needed to make around one kilogram (two pounds) of cheese. It is poured into cylindrical molds and allowed to age for around six months — it becomes firmer as it ages, turning into a great grating cheese. Considered to be a staple in the Balkan diet, it is usually served with olives or used to top pasta in a shredded form. Also used in salads, appetizers, pizzas, and lasagna, it makes a great addition to any cheese platter.
A delicate and creamy cheese, kashkaval has a fine texture and is not spotted. Kashkaval vitosha refers to cheese made from cow's milk. Kashkaval balkan is cheese made from ewe's milk, while kashkaval preslav is the name given to cheese made from a mixture of both milks. Its semifirm, slightly hard texture makes it an excellent cheese for grilling because it does not melt. It may also be served in a fried form; thick slices of the cheese can be easily sauteed in a little crushed garlic and olive oil until it turns brown on both sides.
Deep-fried kashkaval is known as kashkaval penne and is quite popular. The major ingredients are cheese, flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. It's very easily made by cutting the cheese into slices that are about half an inch (one centimeter) thick. Cheese makers remove any excess moisture by patting the cheese with paper towels. They season the flour with a little salt and pepper and spread it on a plate.
Cooks beat the eggs and place them aside in a small bowl. They spread the bread crumbs on a separate plate. The breading process involves pressing the cheese into the flour until it is coated with a thin layer. Then, cooks shake off the excess flour and dip the cheese into the egg and bread crumbs subsequently. To get a thicker layer of bread crumbs, they may dip it again.
Cheese makers deep-fry the slice immediately in hot oil until the crumbs turn a lovely golden brown color. They then placed it on a paper towel to allow the excess oil to drain away. Delicious when hot, servers may garnish the dish with parsley or other greens. The cheese does not become gooey through deep-frying.
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