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Malakoff - Swiss Deep-Fried Cheese Sticks

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These deep-fried cheese sticks named after the taking of Malakoff during the Crimean war are the most delicious deep-fried calorie bomb I ever tried.

Regular readers of FXcuisine have enjoyed reading about deep-fried calorie bombs, such as the Neapolitan Deep-Fried Pizza and its Scottish cousin or the Deep-Fried Candy Bar. Today let me have a dose of my own medicine and introduce the malakoff, a specialty from my homeland, Switzerland.

This recipe is said to have been brought back by Swiss soldiers who were drafted by the French in the Crimean War, a military adventure in the fine tradition that later fostered WW1 and the Iraq Debacle. The recipe commemorates the taking of Malakoff in 1855 in the Ukraine. It is a very typical recipe of the canton of Vaud on the Northern shores of Lake Geneva.

Malakoff [mahlah-COUGH]
Swiss deep-fried cheese sticks
300gr hard cheese*
1 bottle white wine (Swiss if you can find it)
2 eggs
150gr flour
Salt
Oil for deep-frying
A strong stomach

*The cheese you choose should have no holes, not break easily but still melt properly. Here I used alpine meadow, unpasteurized Etivaz-type Gruyre, that's the Bentley of cheeses. But you can do this with other cheese types.

Ask the cheesemonger to cut the cheese at least 0.5''/1.25cm thick. Remove the crust and slice carefully in sticks of equal size. Please note that this dish is sometimes prepared with cheese slices to make a sort of deep-fried cheese steak.

Put the cheese sticks in a plate and cover with the white wine. Cover and let marinate for one hour at room temperature.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter by mixing 150gr flour with 2dl/200gr white wine.

Whip until no flour lumps are visible and you have a smooth but thick batter. Add flour if the batter is too runny - we want it to stick to the cheese.

Cover and let it rest for one hour.

Beat stiffly 2 egg whites and incorporate delicately to the batter once it's rested.

Discard the wine used to marinate the cheese sticks and pat them dry. Roll them in flour until the sticks are no longer sticky. This is designed to let the batter better stick to the sticks.

Heat your oil to 190C/375F - that is, very hot.

With a pair of kitchen pliers, dip a cheese stick in the batter ...

... and gently drop it into the oil. Instant karma alert - if you don't do it gently, the oil will spill and burn you.

Fry until golden brown, then remove to a huge pile of kitchen towels to try and absorb as much of the frying oil as possible. It is possible that your sticks stick to the basket. In that case leave them until fried through, remove the basket, let it drip and only them proceed to unstick the fried sticks. Otherwise you'll just break the batter and they'll fill with oil. Very nutritious but not hugely healthy.

Serve as an appetizer, with a salad or a soup. They are really delicious, with the cheese gently melted inside and perfumed with the tart white wine flavor, all in a crispy white wine batter. Maybe you could organize a malakoff-eating contest to see who can eat most?

I've never seen this dish in any restaurant but most Swiss mistake the malakoff with the more common Beignet de Vinzel, a cheese fritter on a slice of bread. Many restaurants put "Malakoff" on the menu but serve beignet de Vinzel and you'll have a hard time convincing a Swiss that they've been calling it incorrectly for their whole life. But if one ends up being the only one to speak correctly, it is probably time to move on and adopt the common usance. But what would we call the malakoff then, if that word is used to speak of the beignet de Vinzel?


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30 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Fein
Sinful and beautifully done. Ah well, there are no cheese-mongers in my area, you call them.
  • #2
  • Comment by Alex
Makes me wish I had a deep-fryer.  
  • #3
  • Comment by lele
Have you ever tried mozzarella in carrozza??
  • #4
  • Comment by adina
But you said 2 eggs...If we use the egg-whites what happens to the yolk of the egg? I guess is placed on the flour+wine stuff? Thanks.Adina
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
Adina, you need two eggs but you use only the egg whites in the recipe.
  • #6
  • Comment by nameRon Palmer
Dear SirI visited Coeur de la Cote in Vinzel on Friday past, it was the second time I had eaten Malakoff and this time I was delighted to take my wife, we just loved this dish. We are from Scotland and I was really amused to read your comment below!!!!"Beignets de Vinzel is a cult dish from the Swiss coast of Lake Geneva. It would fit nicely into the Scottish Diet."We had a great week-end. Discovery of the trip was sprouted onion seed sprinkled on a smoked salmon salad as a starter as served at Les Allies in Lausanne.I now must search for a suitable Scottish Cheese to malakoff (a new verb for the Scottish vocabulary.) Thank you for the recipe and if you wish a little Scottish Smoked Salmon, let me know I have a little stock in Lausanne.Yours sincerelyRon Palmer Scotland
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Dear Mr Palmer, I am most happy that at last a Scot gave our local Swiss deep-frying philosophy its fair chance! If you try with one of the fine Scottish cheeses, try to find one that is not too old (or it will give out its oil and not melt) but still hard enough to withstand the deep frying. Can you confirm they served the Malakoff (whole pieces of cheese covered in batter and deep fried) or did you have the more ubiquitous - in Vinzel at least - Beignets de Vinzel made from grated cheese? The latter are easier to made from a variety of cheeses. As for the Scottish salmon, I am a fiend for this and would be very keen on learning the location of your Lausanne stash of smoked salmon!
I hope you had fun in Switzerland and thank you for visiting my blog.
  • #8
  • Comment by Melinda
Hi!  Could you use rye flour to make these?
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Melinda, rye is not so cool for a deep-frying batter because it has no gluten. But if gluten is the issue, then yes, by all means do and enjoy this gorgeous treat!
  • #10
  • Comment by Guruvar
Loved the tandoori chicken, gorgeous pix. My cholesterol level is out of control just looking at the lovely fried food esp fried mars bars, must make a point of going to cafe picante if I am ever in Edinburgh!Thanks,keep up the good work!
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
Guruvar, thanks for visiting and don't worry about my blog increasing your cholesterol level, it's only virtual!
  • #12
  • Comment by constantins
Thank you for offering your site and its marvellous photos. I have been looking up Malakoff recipes for years in hope of reproducing the ones I used to delect on in Luins some years ago. It seems that yours are somewhat different in shape and thickness. Would you have any suggestion on what modifications could be brought to your recipe to approximate the Luins effect? Kind regards
I, also have been looking for recipes for Malakoff for many years.  The Malakoff with which I'm familiar is mounded cheese(a combination of gruyere, appenzeller and Emmentaler, grated and mixed with flour and eggs on a very thin slice of French bread.  The cheese is mounded on the bread, making sure to "glue" the cheese to the bread, then immersed upside-down in the hot oil.  After a few minutes, a beautiful, golden-brown crust appears on the cheese.  Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and stand back as your diners attack the wonderful Malakoffs. Best served with Dijon mustard, cornichons or small dill pickles and a green salad with a light mustard vinaigrette.
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
Constantins, please read my other article about the Beignets de Vinzel which are the ones they serve in Luins under the mistaken name of "Malakoff".
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
June, please read the other article about the cheese fritters you describe. People in Switzerland call these 'Malakoffs' but this word actually describes the cheese sticks shown on this article.
  • #16
  • Comment by Alka-Seltzer
Good, surely better than scottish deep-fried burgers.
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Aye Alka, this is made from first rate artisan cheese, unfrozen. But they have plenty of great products up there in Scotland, too bad they seem to export most.
  • #18
  • Comment by don siranni
Fx:discard the wine? How much contamination can you get from cheese?  What easily available white could I get for this Malakoff?I don't know wines;scotch whisky,yes-wine ,no.
  • #19
  • Comment by donsiranni
Francois,I can't find the old english "the forme of currye" book.I Googled it ond only found your reference here!!
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
Don, the book you are looking for is called Forme of Cury, you can see it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forme_of_Cury
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
Don, you must use a cheap, over-the-hill, tart white wine for this. It softens the cheese, tartifies it and helps the flour stick. You wouldn't want to drink it after that, but no need to go for some refined vintage.
With the beautiful golden color the food looks so delicious.  You did so well.
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
Hong, indeed the color of this dish and the rich melted cheese that oozes out is heavenly!
  • #24
  • Comment by Suissu
Well, precisely I have organized a soiree for tomorrow night with Malakofs in a specialized restaurant in Eysins (Vaud, Switzerland). We're all cheese lovers and I must say, despite I am a slim guy, I can eat up to 7 unit of 12cm long, 8cm wide and 3 cm thick....yep, these Malakofs are not for apetizers, THEY'RE THE MAIN COURSE!
  • FX's answer→ Suissu, have fun with the malakoffs evening and don't worry about being too lean - this won't last long!

  • #26
  • Comment by baxter leveque
   31 years since leaving Vaud I finally found a recipe so I can get a Malakoff fix!!! Last time I ate them was in a restaurant on the shores of lake Geneva where they would bring them, two at a time, on a wooden paddle(like a croupiers) and would make a pencil mark on the table for the tally.

               Many thanks, Bax.
  • #27
  • Comment by Online Colleges
Wow! These look so delicious. I love cheese sticks. Can't wait to make them, thanks for the great recipe.
  • #28
  • Comment by Enrique Parra
Muy buen articulo Los acabo de probar en un restaurant L'union , deliciosos ...aunque en forma redonda ...no me acuerdo con que queso... gracias
  • #29
  • Comment by kiara
awesome love it!!!! can live on it
  • FX's answer→ So could I!




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