Shopska Salad (Bulgarian)

Shopska SaladaThis is a recipe I discovered in Bulgaria. Shopska Salad (Шопска салата) is very much a staple across the country: we could have had it most nights and in most places we visited. It’s a simple combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, peppers and crumbled brine cheese. The cheese is the most important element, and unfortunately the hardest to get. It uses “sirene”, a brined sheep cheese that is distinctive (and a bit overpowering) in flavour. It’s excellent in this salad: but feta cheese will work if sirene is not available.

I remember the first time i found sirene in Toronto. I had been looking for it for years: my closes encounter had been a can of cheese that’d bought some years after Bulgaria. Yes, that’s right, a can of cheese. It was expensive, but it was worth it. Since that time, I’d not seen it anywhere. But it happens that one time we had gone into a “Highland Farms” grocery store not far from our house; they have a lot of exotic foods and I remember seeing something that looked like sirene. But I wasn’t sure if that was it, so I if it was Bulgarian.

“Of course we have Bulgarian cheese,” the attendant responded. “Do you want sirene or kashkaval?” Kashkaval is a yellow cheese more like our cheddar than anything else. I had not heard it mentioned since I’d left Bulgaria, so I was excited to find a source for both.

When I first came back from Eastern Europe, I remember tying to recreate what I remembered about Shopska Salad from taste: sirene is much of it, but I also remember a bit more spice than most of the recipes I was able to find. Perhaps it was a local variation, but I was able to recreate my remembered taste with a dusting of cumin in the salad. Otherwise I like the simplest recipe I was able to find; it seemed to me that everyone made this salad, but no-one spent a lot of time on it.

1 medium cucumber
1-2 tomatoes
1 green pepper (optional)
1 tbs. chopped onions
2 oz. sirene: or feta cheese if not available
olive oil, vinegar
black pepper, cumin

  1. Chop cucumber, pepper and tomato into bite sized pieces.
  2. Mix chunks of tomato, pepper and cucumber in a large serving disk.
  3. Sprinkle onion pieces over vegetables.
  4. Crumble feta cheese on top of salad.
  5. Dust with pepper or cumin to taste.
  6. Mix vegetables and cheese
  7. Serve with oil and vinegar
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One Response to Shopska Salad (Bulgarian)

  1. Pingback: Cucumbers | The Geographer's Corner

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