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Nakladany Hermelin (Czech-Style Marinated Camembert)

Nakladany Hermelin (Czech-Style Marinated Camembert) 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Dec 20, 2020

Originally produced in the mid-20th century by Czechoslovak cheesemakers looking to re-create Camembert for the domestic market, hermelin is now a staple of Czech cuisine. The origins of its oil-marinated form are a little murkier, but the dish’s status as a pub favorite gives us a few clues. Darina Sieglová, a staff writer at the Czech food magazine Apetit, explains: “We believe — I don’t know if it’s scientifically based — that you need [to eat] something oily not to get drunk too easily, or too fast.” Fair enough.

Many Czechs wait as much as a couple of weeks before eating, but you can eat it after just three to five days. Serve with rye, sourdough or your favorite bread and a cold pint of beer.

Cheese wheels come in different widths. When selecting a container for marinating, choose a glass container in which the cheese and onions can be fully immersed in the oil. Or, if you don't have one, the cheese can be cut into wedges and marinated in the seasoned oil along with free-floating onions and peppers.

Make Ahead: The marinated cheese needs to be made at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks before serving.

Storage Notes: Once cut, the cheese can be refrigerated, submerged in oil, for up to 1 week.


Servings:
6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (see NOTE)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice berries (4 to 5 berries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • One (8-ounce) wheel Camembert cheese
  • 2 ounces yellow onion (about 1/2 small), sliced into 1/8-inch rounds, with rings intact
  • 2 Fresno chiles, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips (may substitute red jalapeños or long red hot chiles)

Directions

Have a roughly 20-ounce (2 1/2 cup), wide-mouthed glass container with an airtight seal at hand.

In a glass measuring cup, add the oil and paprika and stir; the oil should turn a rich red hue. Add the salt, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic, and stir to combine.

Slice the Camembert in half across the equator. Arrange the intact onion rounds on one of the exposed halves, and sandwich with the other. Press down gently.

Pour half of the oil into the bowl. Place the Camembert in, then arrange the chile slices on top, and pour in the rest of the oil, making sure the cheese is submerged.

Seal tightly and leave in the refrigerator for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks before serving.

When ready to serve, use a thin metal spatula to remove the cheese from the bowl, draining off some of the oil, and then arrange it with the pepper slices and garlic on a plate. Some onion may slip onto the plate, as well.

NOTE: This recipe produces far more flavorful results if your paprika is fresh, i.e. less than a year old. Otherwise, consider investing in a new jar from a spice retailer such as Curio Spice Co. (www.curiospice.com) or Burlap and Barrel (www.burlapandbarrel.com); a fresh tin of Hungarian paprika from the grocery story is a great option, as well.


Recipe Source

From food writer Luke Pyenson.

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.

Nutritional Facts

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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