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Seasoning/adding flavor to fresh mozzarella

  • nasv Jun 2, 2010 01:30 PM
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I like the idea of fresh mozzarella and adding them to various salads, pizzas, or other things, but I haven't been able to execute with it well.

I usually buy the fresh mozzarella that is sitting in lightly salted water, I cut it up in to slices (not too thick or thin depending on the use), and "marinate" with some olive oil and salt before coming to room temperature. For some reason though, after this process, the mozzarella is still either flavorless, or tastes of salt. When I have the fresh mozzarella at restaurants, it's absolutely amazing.

For now I've resorted to dried mozzarella which has the flavor I like, but, obviously, without the moistness and freshness of the fresh mozzarella.

I've tried different sources for the mozzarella, from a specialty Italian Deli to Trader Joe's. Any ideas or tips here?

-Nico

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  1. I make an amalgam of basil shreds, bay leaf and a pinch of lavender and sprinkle that on the wet cheese; *then* I cover with good olive oil. Let it sit for an afternoon at room temp and it'll be soft, creamy and fragrant -- just like in the restaurant.

    Some season with coarse salt (I sprinkle whatever's around) but coarsely ground black pepper is essential.

    Good, fresh mozzarella cheese is very hard to find. It's best to buy it, if possible, from where it's made, whether a small deli or a cheese factory. Buffalo mozzarella, if you can find it, is a creamy, tasty treat, too.

    Finally, smoked mozzarella is a thing of beauty and rich flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      Thanks shaogo! I like the suggestion of buying it where it's made, straight from the small deli! When you season it, do you leave the fresh mozzarella as the whole ball? Or do you cut it into slices?

      Thanks!

      1. re: shaogo

        <<an amalgam of basil shreds, bay leaf and a pinch of lavender and sprinkle that on the wet cheese; *then* I cover with good olive oil.>>

        Nice, shoago. I love cooking with lavendar. Just never thought of using it in this way.

        I also agree about salting a few hours before using, then pouring off the liquid that results
        before adding other ingredients, especially beautiful olive oil.

        And, buying it at the source, especially from an Italian deli, is key. The Italians make
        fresh mozzarella slightly different from non-Italians, and it has more flavor. My guess
        is that's the result of using an enzyme (a lipase) in the cheesemaking. I make mozzarella
        myself, and the lipase makes mozzarella taste more like mozzarella. So, more flavor
        to begin with when your buy your cheese, and less you have to do to build a satisying
        intensity of flavor. I agree that some mozz is like tofu -- a blank slate..

        Just in time for summer!

      2. Salt, salt, salt. It's no secret that restaurants use much more salt than home cooks. Fresh mozzarella has hardly any salt. I've never heard of marinating it in olive oil before cooking. I think just a good amount of salt is what you need.

        6 Replies
        1. re: katecm

          THanks for the salt suggestion, that was also my gut reaction. How do you salt the fresh mozz... diced up? Still when it's a whole ball? Do you let it set for a while?

          Thanks again!

          1. re: nasv

            Depends on what you're doing with it, but definitely not when it's a whole ball. At least slice it first. Then cut off a piece and see if it's salted enough to your tastes. I'd be worried about doing it too soon because of salt's tendency to pull moisture out of foods.

          2. re: katecm

            I guess I wasn't clear; you don't marinate before cooking. I was just talking about adding flavor for use in a caprese salad or the like... I didn't read that the OP intended on adding it to pizza. If cooking with fresh mozzarella, slice in 1/2" slices, add to the food to be cooked, sprinkle with salt, cracked pepper and maybe some basil.

            1. re: shaogo

              There's no reason to think lavender would not work, I just never considered it. Thanks for the tip!

              1. re: shaogo

                pizza was just one example - I like your idea for something like insalata caprese as well! Thanks for the tips!

                1. re: nasv

                  I've been on a big fresh mozz kick of late, so hope you don't mind a lengthy reply While you're thinking of caprese, keep this set of recipes in mind for summertime eating. I've been making it like a madwoman since a couple of weeks ago--can't stop. So good, so easy, so fresh...thanks to Giada for the inspiration, but I've never made it *exactly* her way...I roll my own way with more fresh herbs and absolutely LOVE it! So, here are two more thoughts for you:

                  CAPELLINI CAPRESE - a riff on Giada's checca sauce
                  http://kattyskitchen.wordpress.com/20...

                  IRON SKILLET SPINACH 'N EGGS WITH FRESH MOZZ
                  http://kattyskitchen.wordpress.com/20...

                  Do you have Penzey's California seasoned pepper? I love it on fresh mozz. Here's a link if you're not familiar with the product. Nice blend of flavors:
                  http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                  I'm spoiled--a local producer (Liuzzi in Connecticut) makes some fine mozz and ricotta, too...though I'm sure you don't have a shortage of Italians in California who can steer you straight!

                  shaogo, lavender is a yummy idea--thanks! Of course my fave of all faves is burrata, but that's another discussion, isn't it?