Halloumi with Quick Sweet Chilli Sauce

When I described halloumi once as "salt-flavored Polystyrene", people thought I was being derogatory. Nothing could have been further from the truth. There is something so compelling about this squeaky cheese, and my fridge is stocked with it at all times. Most regularly I treat it as vegetarian bacon, dry-fried in a hot pan then dolloped with a peeled, soft-boiled egg (I'd rather peel an egg, even when it's hurty-hot, than poach one). But the idea for this recipe came to me one evening when I felt the need to counter the siren call of the halloumi's saltiness with some sweet-and-heat. I use a copper pixie-pan for the quick sauce--which takes all of 4 minutes--but if you don't have one, just make more and keep it afterwards in a sealed jar, heating up what you need on further occasions.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 15 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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Ingredients

3 fresh red chilies

2 tablespoons runny honey

1 lime, halved

225-gram (8-ounce) block halloumi cheese

To serve:

Salad leaves, of your choice

Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste

Directions

  1. Slice 2 of the chillies, leaving the seeds in, then de-seed the third and chop it into fine dice (this is for full-on fieriness; you may de-seed more cautiously if you wish) and add to a small pan--ideally, the sort sold as a butter-melting pan--along with the honey, and squeeze in 1 teaspoon of lime juice from one half of the lime. Put the pan on the smallest ring on the stove and bring to a bubble, then turn the heat down low, and let it foam away for 4 minutes. Stir frequently and do not leave the pan unattended, otherwise it will foam over the stove. Remove from the heat.
  2. Before you turn to the halloumi, arrange a few salad leaves on 2 plates, and pour as much or as little oil over them as you want. Cut the un-juiced half of the lime into wedges, and pop one on each plate if so wished.
  3. Slice the halloumi block into 8 pieces, and heat a cast-iron or heavy-based frying pan. When it's hot, add the slices and cook them--without any oil in the pan--for 30 to 60 seconds until they are tiger-striped underneath, then turn the slices over and cook until the underside is patchily bronzed, too.
  4. Remove the halloumi to the salad-lined plates and spoon the lipstick-red pieces of chilli in their honeyed glaze over the cheese. Eat immediately. Not hard to do.

Cook’s Note

Transfer cooled leftover chilli sauce to a jar, then seal and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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