Asian Noodle Salad with Fried Halloumi

Asian Noodle Salad with Fried Halloumi Cheese

Given the fact the I shop for groceries without any clear direction of what I am going to make with the ingredients, my fridge tends to accumulate a motley assortment of half used ingredients. Today was one of those days where it just felt wrong to go grocery shopping given how full the fridge was, and yet the random cluttering of food in its inner depths yielded no inspiration.

Broccoli rabe, cilantro, corn, potatoes and cucumbers all seemed like the makings of a good side dish, but nothing suitable for a proper supper. As my gaze floated up a shelf, the block of Halloumi I’d purchased last week caught my eye. It’s a cheese from Cyprus that has an odd squishy texture and the unique property of not melting when heated. This makes it perfect for frying and grilling, something you wouldn’t dream of doing with most cheeses, unless you were gunning for a big gloppy mess.

What’s your favourite way to clean out your fridge?

By the time I’d discovered the Halloumi, it was past 6:00pm and the natives were getting hungry. I knew I had to think of something quick, and I resigned myself to the likelihood that I’d be eating an unmemorable meal. A salad, with fried halloumi on top wouldn’t be so bad, but it lacked a starch. As I was rummaging through the pantry, I noticed a cellophane bag of rice noodles peaking out from the mess. A light bulb flicked on, and this Mediterranean meets Southeast Asian noodle salad was born.

I honestly didn’t expect this dish to amount to much more than a fridge cleaning meal. It was after all, thrown together out of random odds and ends in a mealtime panic. A few bites in though, and I realized something very special had been born out of my rush to put food on the table. I don’t tend to repeat dishes once I post about it, but this one is definitely going on the summertime repertoire. It’s light and refreshing yet satisfyingly filling, the crisp brown outer layer of the cheese blankets the salad with umami, and the mild bitterness of the verdant green brocolli rabe is an even-keeled counterpoint to the sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors in the salad.

Call it serendipity, or call it a fluke, but this haphazardly conceived dish, turned out to be a memorable summer delight.

Asian Noodle Salad with Fried Halloumi

for salad
1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe
1/2 sweet onion sliced thin
2 Persian cucumbers cubed
1 ripe tomato cubed
1 handful cilantro or mint chopped
1 chili minced (Thai, or Serrano)

for dressing
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs + 1 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbs sugar

7 oz Bánh phở rice noodles (the kind used in phở and pad Thai)
6 oz Halloumi cheese sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
oil for frying

Rehydrate the rice noodles in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes.

Boil a large pot of well salted water. Add the broccoli rabe and boil until the stems are cooked but still retain some crunch (about 2 minutes). Drain and immediately plunge the broccoli rabe into an ice bath. This shocks the vegetable giving it a vibrant green colour. Squeeze out any excess water from the broccoli rabe and chop. Add to a bowl with the onions, cucumbers, tomato, cilantro and chili.

Make the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

Boil the noodles until just tender then drain and plunge in a couple changes of cold water to chill. Add some ice cubes to the water and leave the noodles in the water while you fry the halloumi (otherwise they will start sticking).

Heat a cast iron skillet until very hot. Add a splash of oil. Dry each piece of Halloumi using a paper towel and put in the pan to fry until crisp and brown on one side. Flip, then brown the second side.

To plate, just add the dressing to the vegetables and toss to coat. Drain the noodles and put down a bed of them, then top with the salad along with some of the dressing that’s accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. Top with slices of fried Halloumi.

  • http://justcooknyc.blogspot.com/ justcooknyc

    ha, very creative. i love haloumi, but i would never have thought of this

  • http://justcooknyc.blogspot.com/ justcooknyc

    ha, very creative. i love haloumi, but i would never have thought of this

  • http://colloquialcookin.com/ Colloquial Cook

    I’m picturing me trying to take a picture of this particular dish. Marc, only you could make this sexy.

  • http://colloquialcookin.com Colloquial Cook

    I’m picturing me trying to take a picture of this particular dish. Marc, only you could make this sexy.

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  • http://duodishes.com/ The Duo Dishes

    NICE fusion. Halloumi has always been eaten in a really traditional way for us, so it’s cool to see a more out of the box option.

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    NICE fusion. Halloumi has always been eaten in a really traditional way for us, so it’s cool to see a more out of the box option.

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    This sounds really good to me, and I have not had that greek cheese in a long time…as Duo said, nice fusion!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    This sounds really good to me, and I have not had that greek cheese in a long time…as Duo said, nice fusion!

  • http://memoriesinthebaking.blogspot.com/ Marysol

    Marc, I’d hate to waste time running to the store for Halloumi in order to make this. I want that Asian salad, now!

    I don’t know how something that looks so simple and healthy, also look so good. But, you always manage.

    Marysol

  • http://memoriesinthebaking.blogspot.com Marysol

    Marc, I’d hate to waste time running to the store for Halloumi in order to make this. I want that Asian salad, now!

    I don’t know how something that looks so simple and healthy, also look so good. But, you always manage.

    Marysol

  • http://zested.wordpress.com/ liz {zested}

    I’d never think to mix haloumi with a salad, but I love the idea.

  • http://zested.wordpress.com liz {zested}

    I’d never think to mix haloumi with a salad, but I love the idea.

  • http://www.eleanorhoh.com/ Eleanor Hoh

    I like your “norecipe” philosophy but it’s your style of writing that makes everything so appealing and easy. I’m definitely sharing in my next newsletter.

  • http://www.eleanorhoh.com Eleanor Hoh

    I like your “norecipe” philosophy but it’s your style of writing that makes everything so appealing and easy. I’m definitely sharing in my next newsletter.

  • http://ravenouscouple.blogspot.com/ Ravenouscouple

    Great way of cleaning the fridge! We love to top our fried halloumi with a salsa of grapes, capers, cherry tomatoes and balsamic reduction.

    @Marysol: The trip to the store is more then worth it. Fried halloumi is out of this world good.

  • http://ravenouscouple.blogspot.com Ravenouscouple

    Great way of cleaning the fridge! We love to top our fried halloumi with a salsa of grapes, capers, cherry tomatoes and balsamic reduction.

    @Marysol: The trip to the store is more then worth it. Fried halloumi is out of this world good.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    Marc, I love what you’ve done with the halloumi here…I would have never thought to pair with Asian ingredients…it looks and sounds wonderful!

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    Marc, I love what you’ve done with the halloumi here…I would have never thought to pair with Asian ingredients…it looks and sounds wonderful!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    This reminds me! I still have a bit of halloumi left and this sounds like a great idea. I always use my leftovers for fried rice, fried noodles…pizza..that sort.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    This reminds me! I still have a bit of halloumi left and this sounds like a great idea. I always use my leftovers for fried rice, fried noodles…pizza..that sort.

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/ Susan from Food Blogga

    I adore fried halloumi. I first had it a couple of years ago with an olive relish and was hooked. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve gotta buy some next time I go shopping.

  • http://foodblogga.blogspot.com Susan from Food Blogga

    I adore fried halloumi. I first had it a couple of years ago with an olive relish and was hooked. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve gotta buy some next time I go shopping.

  • http://www.bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    I love just cooking on the fly and seeing what’s around to make something new and different. When I’m cleaning out the fridge, I’ll make fried rice or a mixed rice, or some type of stoop (soup/stew).

  • http://www.bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com Ninette

    I love just cooking on the fly and seeing what’s around to make something new and different. When I’m cleaning out the fridge, I’ll make fried rice or a mixed rice, or some type of stoop (soup/stew).

  • http://www.mytartelette.com/ Tartelette

    Intriguing Marc! Waste not…eat well. The salad looks great!

  • http://www.mytartelette.com Tartelette

    Intriguing Marc! Waste not…eat well. The salad looks great!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com/ Jan

    I’m loving the idea of this! That salad looks amazing – I LOVE the idea of adding Halloumi to Asian ingredients!

  • http://www.whatdoiwant2cooktoday.blogspot.com Jan

    I’m loving the idea of this! That salad looks amazing – I LOVE the idea of adding Halloumi to Asian ingredients!

  • http://www.phamfatale.com/ Jackie at PhamFatale.com

    I recently had a very bad experience with frying halloumi. Everything splattered everywhere. Mental note: pat dry the cheese before adding to the hot oil. Thanks, Marc. I’m going to give the cheese another try :)

  • http://www.phamfatale.com/ Jackie at PhamFatale.com

    I recently had a very bad experience with frying halloumi. Everything splattered everywhere. Mental note: pat dry the cheese before adding to the hot oil. Thanks, Marc. I’m going to give the cheese another try :)

  • http://squidjig.blogspot.com/ Doc Rock

    14″ thick slices??? ;-}>

  • http://squidjig.blogspot.com Doc Rock

    14″ thick slices??? ;-}>

  • http://www.danatreat.com/ Dana

    Thank you so much for posting the recipe! I couldn’t get it out of my head after seeing you mention it on Twitter. Some of my favorites are in there.

  • http://www.danatreat.com Dana

    Thank you so much for posting the recipe! I couldn’t get it out of my head after seeing you mention it on Twitter. Some of my favorites are in there.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Hee, I was almost hoping it was 14″ thick slices. Grilled cheese is awesome ;) Atypical to find in Asian dishes, but I love the fusion!
    I’m not too good with cleaning out the fridge (I’m Mr. ALL recipes, lol.) I sometimes toss them frighteningly into the freezer hoping I can think of something better to do with them.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Hee, I was almost hoping it was 14″ thick slices. Grilled cheese is awesome ;) Atypical to find in Asian dishes, but I love the fusion!
    I’m not too good with cleaning out the fridge (I’m Mr. ALL recipes, lol.) I sometimes toss them frighteningly into the freezer hoping I can think of something better to do with them.

  • http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com/ Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gou

    This looks amazing! I’d like to have a plate now! :D
    My way of cleaning my frig out is cooking different meals everyday until I use up everything (and believe me my hubby has no prob helping me eat it up)! Now stuff like green onions, herbs, or leeks – man sometimes I have forgotten about them and had to hurry up and cook em before they went bad! hee hee LOL!

  • http://ordinaryrecipesmadegourmet.com Kim, Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet

    This looks amazing! I’d like to have a plate now! :D
    My way of cleaning my frig out is cooking different meals everyday until I use up everything (and believe me my hubby has no prob helping me eat it up)! Now stuff like green onions, herbs, or leeks – man sometimes I have forgotten about them and had to hurry up and cook em before they went bad! hee hee LOL!

  • http://www.eatshowandtell.com/ Howard

    Very creative! I love haloumi as it is very versatile but good enough to eat on it’s own with olive oil and lemon!

  • http://www.eatshowandtell.com Howard

    Very creative! I love haloumi as it is very versatile but good enough to eat on it’s own with olive oil and lemon!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com/ Christina@DeglazeMe

    fried cheese!! who doesn’t love that? and i love the fusion with the asian noodles. brilliant, marc, as usual!

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    fried cheese!! who doesn’t love that? and i love the fusion with the asian noodles. brilliant, marc, as usual!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    i feel like halloumi cheese is a bit like queso fresco. In that case I am basically eating what you cooked today sans noodles and with corn.

    lime and cheese and corn = god send

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    i feel like halloumi cheese is a bit like queso fresco. In that case I am basically eating what you cooked today sans noodles and with corn.

    lime and cheese and corn = god send

  • http://www.inpraiseofleftovers.com/ The Leftoverist

    As far as I’m concerned, fridge-cleaning meals are the best!

  • http://www.inpraiseofleftovers.com The Leftoverist

    As far as I’m concerned, fridge-cleaning meals are the best!

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