back to article Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Smažený sýr

It's back to basics this time around for our post-pub nosh neckfiller, following an audacious leap into the challenging waters of English muffins and hollandaise sauce. Say hello, then, to classic Czech wobbly dining delicacy smažený sýr ("fried cheese") – aka "smazak" to its mates – which has for years been dispensed by …

  1. Vincent Ballard

    I've had both fried mozzarella and fried camembert as tapas. I'm not a fan of camembert in general, and frying didn't improve it, but people who like it raw will probably like it fried. Mozzarella works well, although provolone is almost certainly better. It's my favourite cheese for general cooking purposes.

    One note of caution: hot cheese can stick to your tongue and burn it. Have cold liquid to hand.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Up

    I can't pronounce it...

    ... but I can eat it.

    I've enjoyed this during my travels in the Czech Republic. Yum, yum

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: I can't pronounce it...

      I likewise have no idea how it's pronounced, but it goes down a treat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't pronounce it...

        > I likewise have no idea how it's pronounced

        Just as it's written. :-)

        /ž/ is the same sound as English /j/ in jelly, for example. Every letter, including the final /r/ is pronounced. An accent mark on it means that it's a long vowel, all the others are short.

        So, sort of like "Smajennee Sir", with "Sir" pronounced¹ as if you were mildly annoyed ("Sir... would you please get off the table and put your clothes back on").

        PS: That thing is vile, though I concede that it probably goes down OK after a few beers.

        ¹ Assuming a rhotic accent.

        1. Desidero

          Re: I can't pronounce it...

          Sorry, but /ž/ is more like the j in French "bon jour".

          Shortened version is smažak, not smazak.

          Skipping the tartar sauce makes for incomplete fried cheese - i.e. it's required.

          Edam is the normal one; hermelin/camembert is more yuppie & strange, too soft (sometimes made with a slice of ham inside) and will really harsh a hangover, which of course is when you're likely to eat smaženy syr.

          Probably mozzarella works in place of Edam, but goat cheese? yuck. Of course I wouldn't put tartar on goat cheese either.

          Boiled potatoes are the norm (without skins, please), but street stands typically offer fries (hranolky, or basically "potatoes in shape of little geometrical prisms") and a tasteless bun to stuff the cheese in.

          1. Someone

            Tartar sauce or stronger

            Yes, mayo doesn’t have enough bite. Following on from the call for some chilli, a good alternative is some sort of fruit and chipotle sauce, jelly or jam. The fruit being red currant, raspberry, blackberry or similar.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't pronounce it...

        smazhoni syr, sort of. In semi-conductored chips.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Fried Cheese

    Be it in stick, disk or cube form, bring them on! Side them up with various dipping sauces and we're in business.

    Maybe it's best you didn't try Saganaki, it's usually served flaming, not a great combination with post pub state of inebriation.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Fried Cheese

      Dream sequence from Friends, Joey is married to Monica:

      Monica: I've cooked all your favorites for breakfast.

      Joey: Wow! fried stuff with cheese!

  4. Little Mouse

    I've tried cooking similar and the cheese always seems to find an escape route and ends up on the outside of the breadcrumbs. Yuk.

    The one exception being haloumi - the Tonka toy of the cheese world.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Try the russian version

      It is known as сырник.

      1. Separate the yolk from the rest of the eggs. Mix the "outer" mix - flour, etc with the yolk only. This makes it nice and sticky while runny enough to envelop the cheese.

      2. Instead of trying to fry the cheese whole mix feta cheese, cottage cheese and the remainder of the eggs (without the yolks). This makes the inside set nearly instantaneously when thrown into the deep frier so it never runs out. Some places also add sugar to the feta+cottage cheese mix. This is a matter of taste and if you are doing a post-pub super-cholesterol hit you may want to skip on that.

      Rest is same as in the Czech version. By the way there is also a Ukrainian, Belorussian and several Russian versions :)

      Anyone after that telling me that slavs differ signficantly culturally from country to country can go and discuss should try discussing with a Bulgarian and Serb is the traditional Balkan slavic cheesecake Banitsa or Gibanitsa).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Try the russian version

        > It is known as сырник

        Which translates as "cheesy" :-)

        1. Angol

          Re: Try the russian version

          Not quite: try "little cheesy thing" or "cheesy thingy". The -ik" bit of the eord is as much about affection as size - consider "doggie".

      2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

        Re: Try the russian version

        Sheesh! (and, for that matter, "kebab!") Properly pronouncing smažený sýr is tough enough. Now you throw in Cyrillic?

  5. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    To prevent escape routes double bread it. Once and then redip in egg and then in breadcrumbs again.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Indeed, as per our step-by-step. A double dip is required.

      1. horsham_sparky

        double dipping?

        I thought that was unhygienic, or so sayeth Seinfeld anyway.. :-)

  6. horsham_sparky

    looks good..

    now all it needs is some chili sauce! :-)

    On the subject of cooked cheese, grilled or fried halloumi would also fit the post-pub nosh neckfiller category, seeing though its dead easy to make (slice it, bung it in a frying pan with a little olive oil and maybe garlic and herbs, fry on both sides 'till golden), its lovely cheesy and salty.. though the saltiness always makes me want another beer...

  7. x 7

    1) I thought in Czecho, all food always came with beetroot? Red beetroot, white beetroot, yellow, orange, purple, striped, pickled, boiled, fried, roasted, mashed........but always bloody beetroot

    2) A blue cheese would be best for this. Something like Blacksticks Blue or Garstang Blue from Lancashire would work well - both make excellent toasted cheese

    3) A dash of marmite spread on the cheese before coating adds extra depth of taste

    1. horsham_sparky


      the only time to use marmite is if your driveway needs re-surfacing.. yuck!

      blue cheese is the food of the gods though.. om nom nom

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > 1) I thought in Czecho, all food always came with beetroot?

      Sometimes potatoes are involved as well.

      > 3) A dash of marmite spread on the cheese before coating adds extra depth of taste

      Let's put it this way: it's not going to make it any worse.

    3. DN4


      > I thought in Czecho, all food always came with beetroot?

      No, that must have been some bad luck if you got everything with beetroot. It's true restaurants here tend to add all sorts of random vegetables to meals for no good reason, but there's more variety than beetroot. Often it's cabbage (of whatever kind and form) that I fortunately happen to like, but it can be really anything. Beetroot is actually relatively uncommon and used [properly] only in some specific meals.

      1. x 7

        Re: beetroot

        I'll bow to your knowledge - my comments were based on a few trips to Prague not long after the communists fell, and beetroot (along with fried mashed potatoes) were the only things available on the (previously state-run) "restaurant" menus. They were still suffering from the after-effects of the planned economy - both in terms of availability and mindset.

        I'm glad to hear things have changed

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This recipe cries for some BACON.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Usually you can order the fried cheese with a ham. It is a cheese-ham-cheese combo covered in flour-egg-crumbs mix.

      Sometimes is the fried cheese with a slice of ham even listed in vegetarian meals section.

      The Camembert version is usually served with with slice of salami inside.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge


    Are the two cheeses mixed together and then pattified? Or is it two slices of B with A in the middle? Yeah, I'm an idiot for asking this.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Question..q

      I wondered that...cheese A seems to have disappeared in the step-by-step

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Fried cheese!!

    Otherwise known as the "Cardiologist full-employment snack" :)

    Lots of places serve deep-fried mozzerella with a side of marinara sauce or pesto here in the U.S. The cheese does stand up to the frying process well, but other than that I am not sure of the "why?" of it. Basically, it tastes kind of bland to me.

  11. x 7

    "it tastes kind of bland"

    then its the wrong kind of cheese!!!!!!

    as I said earlier, use a decent blue cheese

  12. DN4

    Fried cheese

    > use a decent blue cheese

    Or camembert-like or smoked cheese or anything you like. If you want a strong taste, use this:

    (warning: might be classified as chemical weapon in the US).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fried cheese

      Only 1% fat ?! You're preaching to the wrong public here, mate!

  13. quartzie

    On the delicacy's pronunciation

    I'd suggest "smajhenee seer" as the closest approximation in the Queen's tongue, with the final "R" borrowed from Spanish, rather than English. (try for the real version)

    My family's tradition definitely calls for a Camembert-style cheese, though almost any cheese with a stronger flavour will do. Feel free to experiment with diced/mashed spuds, but do not skimp on the tartar sauce, if you've already got a decent mayo. Just add some finely diced pickles and onion to bring the flavour out.

    Given the meal's fat content, I wholeheartedly recommend a pint of your favourite Pilsner as a digestive.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I were a lad

    The classic accompaniment was hranolky - or chips....along with tatarka.

    Hangover breakfast of champions and my absolute favourite czech dish - even better than drustkova polevka (tripe soup)...

    What happy memories...

  15. Eddy Ito

    I've always been a fan of grated Parmesan cheese set out in little discs on parchment paper then baked with a shake of chile powder to make cookies or crisps depending on how thick you make them.

  16. Tim Worstal

    Not quite....

    "I thought in Czecho, all food always came with beetroot? Red beetroot, white beetroot, yellow, orange, purple, striped, pickled, boiled, fried, roasted, mashed........but always bloody beetroot"

    Dumplings. If it don't have dumplings then it ain't "proper" Czech. Well, so it seems up here in Northern Bohemia at least.

    "Beetroot is actually relatively uncommon and used [properly] only in some specific meals."


    As to making an English version of this.....strong blue cheese like a stilton, thoroughly soaked in port first. Then breadcrumb and fry......

  17. [email protected]

    The Greek version - Saganki...

    It's even easier to cook as it has less ingredients! Serve with Raki for a traditional Creten hangover

    1. Joefish
      Thumb Up

      Re: The Greek version - Saganki...

      Interesting thing when doing this is you end up with more oil in the pan than when you started, which must have come from the cheese. Which suggests to me, so long as it's drained, the fried version has less fat than the cheese on its own... Hmm... Speculation I'm sure...

      Anyway, I tried all sorts before finding something I could get from UK supermarkets that would make a good Greek style Saganaki, so here's my version - it uses Norwegian Jarlsberg.

      You take your Jarlsberg, and you want a big slice around 7-10 cm to each side and 8-10mm thick. You could cut it in half diagonally if you like.

      Tip out some plain flour in a saucer (a few teaspoonfulls is all you need) with a dribble of water, a sprinkle of dried oregano if you like, and stir to make a gooey paste (use your finger - good grief man). Splot the cheese in it and smear it all over.

      Shallow fry in olive oil and flip over once - you want it turning brown on both sides, but watch it closely and take it out just before it starts to collapse and splurge out from the sides.

      Serve with lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped coriander. And a properly heady Rosé - none of this weedy French stuff (OK, I'll grant them the Merlot Rosé). Macedonian is good, and cheap enough at foreign airports to bring back a stash.

      1. [email protected]

        Re: The Greek version - Saganki...

        Nice idea with the Jarlsberg, will give it a go.

        More worryingly, I've suddenly had a craving for Raki - for those who haven't tried the fabled Crete firewater, it's like drinking diesel that has been flavoured with bleach. It's sort of the same as Grappa but not a smooth.

        Off to scour the shops...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The Greek version - Saganki...

          Off to scour your throat more like...

          Still, is it any worse than akvavit? Which the Danes seem to like to chill, so you're forced to actually taste the stuff. Looks like urine, tastes like it too...

          Grappa, like calvados, seems to vary from undrinkable filth, but good for cleaning the drains, to smooth, warm, tasty and mellow.

          I randomly buy calvados, as price and age seem to be little guide - drink the nice stuff, and make ice cream with the rest.

  18. goodjudge

    Haven't been to Prague in over a decade but there was a little hole-in-the-wall caff in a small shopping arcade half-way up Wenceslas Square that AFAIR just sold Smazeny Syr, for a few crowns. Just across the arcade was a '50 flavours of ice cream' diner. All the major food groups in one handy location. Wonderful stuff. They've probably been bulldozed and turned into a lap dancing club now though...

  19. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Another option?

    Since we are no longer in the nuclear heat phase, why not have a look at what the western US calls the Denver omelette and the rest of the country calls a Western omelette? It is not one of the masterpieces of world cuisine, it probably isn't on the American College of Cardiology's heart-healthy list, but it is very decent comfort food.

  20. Tom 7 Silver badge


    The cheese equivalent of habaneros would probably do well as an after pub fry up!

  21. Martin Budden Bronze badge


    There is one cheese which fries beautifully, with or without the breadcrumb coating: haloumi. Find it, fry it, eat it, I promise you won't be disappointed.

  22. x 7

    next week.......of to Scotland for the deep-fried pizza and deep-fried Mars bar

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Haggis pakora is apparently the thing to deep fry.

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Haggis pakora

        Quite so:

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Deep fried mars bars are a self-perpetuating urban myth - the only chip shops that sell them are in tourist areas. I was a student in St Andrews (to this day the only place I've ever seen anyone eat one) and the chippie sold deep-fried crème eggs at easter. Never tried one, don't ever want to.

      Tempted by this with Edam, as others have said mozzarella is pretty tasteless. Halloumi is nice and loses much of it's saltiness once cooked.

      1. x 7

        "Deep fried mars bars are a self-perpetuating urban myth - the only chip shops that sell them are in tourist areas."

        Not true - they're a pretty common sight in the chipshops downstream of Glasgow on both sides of the Clyde. For instance, they sold well in Dunoon last time I was there

        1. Franco Silver badge

          And Dunoon isn't touristy? Where else sells them? Millport?

          1. x 7

            "Where else sells them?"

            Port of Glasgow, Gourock, Greenock..........

  23. Alistair Dabbs

    Asturian goat cheese and a substantial slab of provolone

    When I get back from the pub, these ingredients are inexplicably missing from my fridge.

  24. PBCH

    The translation is more accurately

    "deep-fried cheese", usually prepared not on a pan but in "fritka" (colloquial name for deep frying pot) using at least 2 days old and thoroughly used palm oil. The age and history of the frying medium does give additional flavor to the end product. For sakes of authentic experience of a true post pub nosh at a food stall somewhere in "Horni Dolni" ("arse of the world", basically) this needs to be taken into account, as well as proper tartar sauce. I mean it.

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