Crispy, Light, and Delightful
The Lebanese “Raqaeq Bil-Jebneh”
What’s all the fuss, anyway, about these cheese fingers we get hooked to?
Well, the first and main feature of the Raqaeq is that harmonious balance of the cheese and dough at consumption time. The Raqaeq is neither of thick dough with little cheese nor of thick cheese with little coating.
The Raqaeq takes its name from the very thin and light dough. The term Raqa’ in Arabic means to knead the dough continuously until thinly, which is the original method used to create this particular dough.
Raqaeq is a plural derivative which indicates the final products that turn crispy and light when deep-fried.
As for the term Jebneh, it is none other than cheese. 🙂
Our Cheese Fingers are almost always present on the Mezza menu, and probably the first to be grabbed and eaten. We love them as is, but there could be a salsa dressing on the side for those who love an extra flavor. In any case, we consume these delicious crispy-gold cheese fingers hot, fresh from frying pan.
Today, we use filo pastry dough to make our Cheese Fingers at home. We do not hesitate to increase the quantity and store them in the freezer where they can last for 2-3 months.
We use our Akkawi cheese for this recipe. If you don’t have access to a Lebanese supermarket, you can substitute it with a mild Feta Cheese. You would still need to soak it several times in fresh water to reduce the salty flavor.
I am very happy to bring this recipe to your kitchen! Enjoy!
How To Make Lebanese Cheese Fingers
- 6 square sheets Filo Dough
- 125 gr Akkawi Cheese shredded
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsps Fresh Parsley chopped finely
- 1 tsp Flour
- Vegetable Oil to fry
Mix well the cheese, parsley and pepper into a homogeneous mixture, and set aside.
Preparing for the rolling
Place a baking sheet on a large plate where you will place the cheese fingers as you roll them.
In a small bowl, make a paste from the flour with some water. This mixture will be used to secure the filo dough when rolled.
Preparing the Cheese Fingers
On your cutting board, arrange one filo dough in a diamond shape (an angle facing you), and spread 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture horizontally at the center, and spread it downward.
Fold over the horizontal angles of the dough, and roll over from the angle facing you, halting at about 1 inch.
Gently sweep a little of the flour mixture on that remaining part of the roll and close it over, securing the roll.
Place it on the plate with the closing tip face down.
Repeat the process for all the dough sheets, forming your Cheese Fingers in preparation to fry them.
In preheated oil, gently drop the rolls, one by one, by dipping an extremity first and releasing it in. Deep fry few at a time to crispy-golden. Ensure leaving enough space between them for a nicely well-fried cheese fingers. This should take about 3 minutes each bulk.
Once done, remove them on a sieve then lay them between double layers of kitchen paper-towels, dabbing them gently to soak off the excess of oil.
Leave them in for a couple of minutes while you fry the 2nd bulk.
Once all your cheese fingers are done, and oil soaked off, arrange them on a serving plate, and serve hot.
These delicious Cheese Fingers are great consumed as is or with a dip of tomato salsa dressing.
As mentioned in my introduction article, this recipe could be prepared ahead of time and in quantities and stored in the freezer for 2-3 months. We deep-fry them only at serving time.
In such case, I recommend:
1- you store them in freezable bags, in one or maximum 2 rows so they won't break when you remove them frozen.
2- do not defrost. Deep-fry them frozen, which will take you more than 3 minutes, until crispy-golden.
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