Can Cotija Cheese Substitute Queso Fresco?
Cheese lovers want nothing more than to enjoy making a delicious dish from their favorite type of cheese. Most people love Mexican cheeses as they have distinctive characters that they add to various dishes.
Have you heard about queso fresco? Well, this is one of the perfect Mexican cheeses to have on hand, especially if you are a fan of grilled foods, salads, and soups. It makes it easier for everyone to sit down and enjoy a meal of indulgent goodies.
However, most people who make Mexican recipes admit that it’s sometimes hard to locate queso fresco in their local supermarket. There are many other varieties of cheeses that you can use as a substitute for queso fresco, but most of them don’t give the exact flavor. The best you can get is the cotija cheese substitute queso fresco. So, let’s see if cotija is the ideal alternative to queso fresco cheese.
What are queso fresco and cotija cheese?
Queso fresco is a soft cheese that is known for its mild tanginess, saltiness, and crumbly texture. This is a fresh cheese which is traditionally made from either cow’s milk or a mix of cow’s and goat’s milk.
The production process is quite simple as the milk is acidified first. It’s then left to curdle before straining it in cheesecloth and you then press it. If you are making it at home, you can use it immediately or let it age for a couple of days.
But, traditional queso fresco has the reputation of not holding it for long, so it’s a good idea to use it in your recipe as soon as possible. The queso fresco cheese that is found in the supermarkets is in proper packages to last for a long time.
Cotija is another Mexican cheese that is sometimes referred to as the Parmesan of Mexico. It’s dry grating and salty cheese which has a crumbly texture. It adds a layer of flavor and creaminess to a lot of dishes, making it an ideal cheese to have around.
The traditional cotija cheese is made with cow’s milk. The cheese which is named after the Mexican city known as Cotija takes at least 100 days to age. It has a long shelf life even if its package is open.
How to use queso fresco
Queso fresco is a perfect ingredient to several dishes as it brings salty-sour kick, slightly acidic flavor, and its creamy characteristic provides freshness. It can give contrast to heavier dishes such as enchiladas or it complements light meals including salads and grilled vegetables.
The best way to use queso fresco is by crumbling it on top of beans, rice dishes, and salads. In Mexico, the cheese is used with Chilaca chiles which are mild dark green.
This involves charring the chiles which are then cut into thin strips. They then mix them with some other ingredients such as fresh lime juice and white onion and left alone for 30 minutes. You can eat it as a snack or side dish to fish or chicken. You don’t need to do any cooking at all.
Can Cotija cheese substitute queso fresco?
Cheese is so important to many people that eating as many varieties as possible is the only way of appreciating the flavors. However, it would take you a lot of searching to find the exact substitute of queso fresco cheese.
This cheese tends to taste more of milk than cream or butter. It’s not surprising that this delicious flavor attracts people to find out more about Cotija cheese substitute queso fresco. The good news is that most of the Mexican cheeses including cotija are uniquely salty. The thing is, queso fresco is fresh and it’s not dry like cotija cheese.
Nevertheless, you can crumble queso fresco and cotija in the same way. Plus, queso fresco is softer, mild in flavor, and a bit creamier than cotija. Okay, so both cotija and queso fresco are technically Mexican cheeses, but queso fresco is suited well for frying or grilling.
As you can see cotija cheese substitute queso fresco is the best option you can have. Cotija which is an aged cheese is ideal for the creamy and salty topping to salads and enchiladas just like queso fresco. Both kinds of cheese are salty and they have a crumbly texture.
When to use queso fresco
You might have seen queso fresco in various Mexican dishes, displaying a beautiful sprinkling of whiteness on top of a dish. This is a mild cheese and versatile. Since it’s milky, it offsets the strong flavor from chiles and spices commonly present in most of the Mexican dishes.
Queso fresco has a sour taste making it a favorite for fresh salads. It balances the richness of most dishes, helping you to enjoy a meal in your own home. This is why some people enjoy putting the cheese on almost every dish or as a replacement for goat cheese and ricotta.
You can eat the fresh queso fresco, and store the leftovers to prevent them from going bad. In such a situation, take the following steps.
Wrap the cheese tightly in a plastic freezer bag and make sure you squeeze out as much air as possible.
Keep the cheese in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Use it as a filling and topping
Queso fresco gets soft when you heat, but it’s hard to melt. You can still melt it with low heat for some time. The cheese will turn into a sauce or cheesy dip; however, it will still have its chunky state. You can then stuff it into chiles.
In case you want to use queso fresco for topping, here are some of the dishes you can use it on.
Toss queso fresco into a salad. Instead of using the usual options such as feta, this cheese makes an ideal alternative.
Use the cheese as a garnish for soup. It’s perfect for either a cold summer soup or warmer soups.
Roll queso fresco onto corn by covering every kernel.
You can crumble it atop Mexican dishes to reduce the heat.