Queso de Bola Fondue

Queso de bola

Every year around this time, a Dutch cheesemaker begins wringing his hands in anticipation of a huge financial windfall. With a high-off-his-rocker smile on his face, the Dutch dairy wizard loads a huge cargo container full of crimson globes–balls of aged edam cheese covered in red wax. The giant bounty of salty cheese is then loaded onto a ship bound for a port thousands of miles away.

The destination? Manila.

As the cheese-carrying ship dissappears over the Atlantic horizon, the Dutch cheesemaker jumps in the air and clicks his wooden heels together as he pictures the millions of Filipinos that will soon be enjoying his cheese at their Christmas dinner tables. He laughs maniacally and clipity-clops to the nearest head shop to celebrate.


OK. So the above scenario has probably never really occurred–I just like to think it has. But there is a little bit of truth in the above story. Edam cheese from Holland really does make an appearance on many a Filipino dinner table at Christmastime. But we refer to the cheese as “Queso de Bola” or ball of cheese, or cheeseball. And although Queso de Bola is technically Edam cheese, the export to the Philippines is specially formulated for the Pinoy palate–the Dutch add some extra salt just for us (perhaps we can blame them for our gout).

Queso de Bola is usually served at Christmas Eve festivities (Noche Buena) and paired with anything from ham, to pandesal, to ensaymada, and even tsokolate.

And luckily for me, Queso de Bola is readily available here in the States. I found the Marca Pina brand of cheese at my friendly neighborhood Filipino grocery store, and I believe the Marca Pina brand is a preferred brand in the Philippines.

The cheese itself is firm with a sharp, rich and nutty flavor, though not as salty as I thought it would be. While nibbling on a few pieces of my cheeseball and drinking a cold San Miguel, I figured I’d do something a little different with the rest of the cheese–I’d make fondue!

Queso de bola2

Filipino cheese from Holland,
and Filipino beer from the Philippines.

To make my cheeseball fondue, I relied on this Alton Brown recipe but changed out a few things. Firstly, rather than using a mix of gruyere and gouda, I of course used all Queso de Bola cheese in my fondue. As long as a cheese is semi-firm and at least 40% fat, then it will be a good melting cheese for fondue–and Edam meets these requirements.

Also, instead of using hard apple cider in my fondue, I used a bottle of San Mig. And lastly, I used kalamansi juice instead of lemon juice in my recipe. Citric acid helps to reduce the stringiness of the finished melted cheese.

Although I don’t have a fondue pot, my 3-quart saucier set on my stove worked just fine. My finished fondue was silky smooth and wonderfully nutty and smoky. There was a definite taste of San Miguel though, which wasn’t terrible, but could probably also be improved upon. Next time, I’ll definitely try this recipe with hard apple cider instead of cheap (but good) Filipino beer.

What to dip in Queso de Bola fondue? Well, ham would work well, as would cubed pandesal, apples, pears, and even homemade longanisa.

Queso de bola3

Queso de Bola Fondue

Adapted from this Alton Brown recipe

1 clove garlic, smashed
1 (12-ounce) bottle San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer
2 tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice
1 tablespoon brandy
Pinch kosher salt
10 ounces Queso de Bola (Edam cheese), grated
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
Fresh ground black pepper

Rub the bottom of a heavy saucier or saucepan with the garlic. Pour the beer into the pot along with the calamansi juice, brandy, and salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat.

Queso de bola4

Meanwhile, place the grated cheese in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch to the cheese and toss to coat the cheese with the cornstarch.

When the beer begins to simmer, add the cheese to the pot one handful at a time, allowing each addition to melt completely before adding the next. Continue adding cheese by the handful and stirring until all the cheese is melted and incorporated. If the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue to stir. The fondue is ready when all the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Queso de bola5

Add the pimenton and the ground black pepper. Serve fondue immediately with your choice of dippers. If you don’t have fondue forks, bamboo skewers work just as well.

Queso de bola6

Cheeseball Fondue

What else can you do with a ball of cheese from Holland? How’s about making a quiche with ampalaya and bacon? Or how about making some ensaimada?

  • Row December 20, 2010, 9:14 pm

    Ooohhh, queso de bola… I love cheese, so this is food porn of the highest degree. Now I have to go buy some. *drools*

  • sandrita December 20, 2010, 9:56 pm

    have you tried making cheesecake from edam/queso de bola? queso de bola cheesecake is becoming trendy in restaurants around metro manila.

  • Lorena December 21, 2010, 8:24 am

    Uh-oh. My pregnant brain is reveling in all the deliciousness that would be saltier, Filipino-style Edam cheese. I think I’m making a pilgrimage to Seafood City…
    Oh, and quick question about the alcohol content — seeing as how I’m pregnant and all, does the fondue cook enough to burn off the alcohol, or should I find an appropriate non-alcoholic liquid substitute? Thanks, Marvin!

  • Joy December 21, 2010, 8:28 am

    That looks so good.

  • BurntLumpia December 21, 2010, 6:40 pm

    Thanks row.
    I’ve never tried making cheesecake from queso de bola, sandrita. But I’ll definitely add that to my list of things to try.
    Congratulations on the the little one, Lorena! I do think the beer cooks enough to burn off the alcohol, but just to be safe, I’d recommend finding a non-alcoholic substitute.
    Thanks Joy.

  • Mia December 22, 2010, 7:41 pm

    This post is making me homesick! Here’s something else to do with queso de bola: Grate it finely, then place about 2-3 tablespoons of grated cheese in rounds on a baking sheet (lined with a silpat or parchment paper) – almost like you would with cookies, but you would flatten the mounds a bit so it melts evenly. Bake at 350 until it melts. Once it’s cool, scrape it off the baking sheet – it will be crispy/crunchy like chips!

  • buzz January 5, 2011, 2:45 am

    wow! that looks so yummy! gotta try this before my mom eats what’s left of my QDB! thanks!

  • New recipe January 12, 2011, 10:12 pm

    Very yummy and delicious stuffs. Im gonna try this Bola Fondue this weekend.http://www.vivamagonline.com/index.php I love this post and it gives a wonderful recipe tips. Very nice post and thanks for shraing

  • Filipino Love Quotes in Tagalog August 20, 2011, 7:10 am

    The truth is I was attracted to the bottle of San Miguel Beer in your picture. Ice cold beer with Edam Cheese as pulutan is the best way to enjoy this. Its wonderful that you posted this new way of actually enjoying this combination!Kudos to you and more power!

  • Billypm December 8, 2012, 8:00 am

    I simply love queso de bola with hot pandesal & freshly brewed coffee…that’s it & nothing else.


Leave a Comment