There is a lot to learn and, most of all, enjoy when it comes to beer culture in the Czech Republic. They take their beer seriously. Czechs approach their beer snacks (also known as pivní chuťovky) in the same meticulous way they pour their beer. This nakládaný camembert recipe is a version of nakládaný hermelín. Often called "pickled cheese" for convenient translation purposes, nakládaný camembert is cheese marinated in oil consisting of spicy peppers, onions, herbs, and various seasonings. Everybody has a different style of making nakládaný camembert.
During my trip through the Czech Republic, I quickly became infatuated with marinated cheese along with the rest of Czech cuisine. Its tangy, spicy, oily, and creamy flavors create an unexpectedly delightful pairing with a crisp glass of Czech beer. I knew at some point I would miss this nakládaný hermelín and need to make it at home. After a few tries, I came up with this Czech-style pickled cheese recipe that pleases the palate - mild, peppery, slightly tart, a bit sweet, and garlicky.
Hermelín vs. Camembert
Hermelín is a Czech-style cheese adapted from the French camembert by Czech cheesemakers that wanted to cultivate and create a similar cheese. The bad news is that hermelín can be difficult to find outside Central and Eastern Europe. But the good news is that camembert is easily accessible. So if you can't find hermelín, using camembert is the perfect solution.
How to Make Nakládaný Camembert
Making nakládaný hermelín or camembert is fairly easy. You make a simple paste to spread between the cheese slices and then layer the cheese with the other ingredients. Waiting as the cheese takes on the flavors of the spices and other components is the more challenging part! It would help if you let this jar of cheese sit in the refrigerator for at least three days before cracking it open to eat. Czech recipes recommend marinating the cheese for two weeks for optimal flavor.
Make the Paste
First, you will need to make a spread. This spread recipe consists of mustard, oil, chili pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and minced garlic. I added gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) to up the spice factor. But it's totally optional.
Throw all these ingredients in a bowl, and mix them. If this paste seems too thick, add a bit more oil to make it more spreadable.
Slice the camembert cheese in half like you are making a sandwich and lay them out. Spread some of the paste on one half of each cheese wheel.
Save some of the paste for the onions! This nakládaný camembert recipe makes more than enough paste, so you should be left with a lot in your bowl to mix your onions with.
Slice and Prepare Other Marinade Ingredients
Take your onions, chili peppers, and bell peppers and slice them very thin.
Take your sliced onions and mix them with the paste you made. Make sure the onions are fully coated and well-saturated with the paste.
Layer the Cheese Jar
Place a plain half of the cheese wheel onto the second half with the paste. You've made a cheese wheel sandwich!
Add some allspice balls, peppercorn, and a bay leave to the bottom of the jar. Next, gently add some of the saucy onions and press down on them.
Finally, add the cheese wheel sandwich. Layer on some more spices and onions on top. You can stuff your jar here, but make sure there are air pockets for the oil to seep through.
Repeat these steps for the second cheese wheel and top with any remaining spices and onions.
Finally, add the oil by slowly pouring it into the jar. Halfway through, shake the jar a little so the oil gets into the tiny areas. Continue to fill to the top.
Cover the jar tightly and place it in the fridge for at least three days or up to two weeks.
How to Serve and Eat
Once ready, take out a wheel of cheese, and slice them into pieces. Add marinated oil, onions, bell peppers, and chilies for the topping. You can eat them as they are or spread the cheese on a slice of rye bread. I have also seen nakládaný camembert served alongside a portion of leafy greens.
Don't forget that this is a beer snack. Pour yourself a big glass of pilsner or any other crisp beer to enjoy!
A Note on Garlic in Oil
Since the garlic confit trend, botulism warnings have been a topic when dealing with garlic in oil. If you don't feel comfortable with adding garlic and leaving it in oil for a long time, feel free to leave the garlic out and use a teaspoon of garlic powder instead. You can also choose not to add any garlic at all. Make sure you don't keep this at room temperature for long! A very crisp refrigerator is best for this marinated cheese.
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Marinated Camembert Cheese (Nakládaný Camembert)
- 1 large onion, julienned
- 1 red bell pepper, julienned optional
- 1 piece chili pepper (red or green), sliced crosswise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes, gochugaru optional
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon allspice, whole berries
- 2 teaspoon peppercorn
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced optional
- 1-2 tablespoon neutral oil (vegetable or sunflower)
- neutral oil (vegetable or sunflower), to fill the jar
- 2 wheels of camembert cheese, 125 grams each
- In a bowl, add mustard, 1 tablespoon oil, pepper flakes, paprika, salt, minced garlic, and gochugaru (optional). Mix until you make a paste. Add more oil if needed.
- Cut the cheese wheels in half and lay them flat. Spread some of the paste on two halves and place the plain halves on top of each one. Leave some paste of the onions.You should have two cheese sandwiches with the paste as filling.
- In a bowl take your thinly sliced onions and add the paste. Use your hands to mix the paste with onions until they are well integrated. Set aside.
- Take a jar (700 ml or more) and add some allspice berries, black peppercorn and a bay leaf at the bottom. Then add some of the onions before adding the first cheese wheel. Gently press down on the cheese wheel before repeating this step.
- Continue layering with the second cheese wheel and finally, top the jar with the rest of the onions and other layering ingredients.
- Slowly fill the jar with oil, stopping halfway through to shake the jar so the oil can get through small areas. Close the jar tightly once filled and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before eating.
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