Queso Frito (Dominican Fried Cheese) is quite a treat in itself, and a usual component of Los Tres Golpes, the traditional Dominican breakfast.
Los Tres Golpes: Queso Frito (Fried Cheese), Mangú, fried eggs, and fried Dominican salami is the quintessential Dominican breakfast, and what, in an ideal world, Dominicans would probably choose most days for breakfast. Yes, even the cheese is fried.
"Dominicans will eat ANYTHING for breakfast" observed a friend from a European country which shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. He was watching his Dominican wife tuck into a bowl of soup at the breakfast table. It is true that Dominicans do have some breakfast preferences that to foreign eyes sometimes appear a little eccentric... but let me present the evidence to the jury and put it in an international context.
The case for Dominican breakfast
Exhibit one: casabe with olive oil and garlic - sounds like an extreme tastebud explosion first thing in the morning but I know from first-hand experience that this is common practice in Spain, with toasted bread instead of casabe, to great anti-social effect on your fellow public transport users and co-workers.
Exhibit two - Queso Frito (Fried Cheese), fried eggs, and fried salami - a grease and cholesterol overload which most people cannot take so early in the day. But consider the full English breakfast: fried sausage, fried bacon, fried egg, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, and baked beans which for some reason escape the fate of the frying pan.
Exhibit three: Mangú - I described it elsewhere as "liquid cement" and I hasten to add that this less than complimentary comparison is a quote from a Dominican (the soup-eater, as it happens). I remain in the British isles for the next piece of evidence for the defense, in the shape of traditional Scottish porridge (oatmeal) in all its gluey and lumpy glory.
Beyond Los Tres Golpes...
The most common breakfast in Dominican homes is simply bread dunked into a cup of coffee or cocoa, which is pretty much universal. Heavy breakfasts of all sorts were more common in the past when people worked in more physically demanding jobs. In the Dominican Republic, if you get up early to work in the fields you will probably need a Mangu and Queso Frito to keep you going, but if you work in a bank, coffee and a pan de agua is more like it, and the Mangu breakfast is saved for weekends or special occasions.
For those with more delicate constitutions, the ideal breakfast while in the Dominican Republic could consist of a plate of tropical fruit: papaya, pineapple, melon, banana, passion fruit or whatever is available.
About our recipe
You cannot fry just any cheese. For this recipe you need a good queso de freír, or Dominican queso blanco. If you cannot find this cheese where you live, try to find halloumi (without mint!), the taste and texture are very similar. If you find a queso de freír of lesser quality (which happens even in the Dominican Republic), the recipe includes Aunt Clara's tip to fix it (a tip she picked from her mom).
What's queso de freír (queso blanco)?
Queso de freír or queso blanco is a salty Dominican cheese with a very high melting point that is almost always served fried.
Queso Frito Recipe (Dominican Fried Cheese)
- ½ lb queso de freir, [0.23 kg]
- ¼ cup oil for frying
Prep cheese: Cut cheese into 12 slices (2" x 3", ¼" thick, approx). Pat dry the cheese with a paper towel to minimize splatters.
Fry: Heat oil over medium-high heat[350 ºF or 175 ºC], and fry the cheese on one side until it turns golden brown (fry one slice first to see if it fries well, see notes if it doesn't). Turn and repeat. Do not add many slices at the same time as the oil must remain very hot to prevent the cheese from staying in the oil for too long.
Serving: Serve hot with mangú.