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Friday, August 31, 2012 3:47 PM
Mozzarella is essential in Italian cookery. It becomes stringy, which goes well on pizza –or try a popular Roman dish of mozzarella wrapped inside balls of cooked rice and fried until it melts to look like telephone wires. Fresh mozzarella is delicious in salad – Insalata Tricoloure features it with red tomatoes and fresh green basil.
Fresh mozzarella bears little resemblance to the, common firm yellow, plastic-wrapped lumps with a top knot, which used to be all we could find here. Now artisan cheese makers are producing mozzarella from cow’s milk and water buffalo milk, the latter considered the best by the Italians.
It is thought that either the Greeks or early Christians introduced water buffalo to Italy from India; the date is uncertain, but they were well established in southern Italy by the 16th century. Cow’s milk mozzarella is known as “fior di latte” – flower of the milk.
Usually mozzarella is sold in a ball in its own whey to keep it fresh and moist; it is mild and delicate in taste. It is also sold in little balls as bocconcini, translated as “little mouthfuls”.
Cut or tear fresh, springy mozzarella and leave it to drain for 5-10 minutes to allow excess whey to drain away. In addition, there is a gentle flavoured, pale lemon-hued variety, sweet, nutty and sliceable. If you can’t use the cheese immediately, it will keep in the fridge for a few days. Once open it should be used as soon as possible, although you can keep it for a short time in a covered container in its own whey, skimmed milk or lightly salted water.
The lemon flavour complements the seafood and cheese in this pizza.
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