- 1 What is Cotija Cheese?
- 2 Best Substitutes For Cotija Cheese
- 3 Technique of Making Cotija Cheese at Home
- 4 Final Words
Who doesn’t love that famous topping for tacos and salads? And what better than cojita cheese? This Mexican cheese is famed for providing that salty and savory finish to a great variety of dishes. But many cotija cheese substitute can also be used, like cottage cheese, Romano, Feta, Parmesan, Red Fox, and so on during its unavailability. You can easily find these types of cheese similar to cotija cheese.
What is Cotija Cheese?
This is a Mexican cheese that is directly made from cow milk. And it is generally three to twelve months old. It has a crumbly, granular texture that doesn’t melt away. This cheese is available widely. If not, you can surely get it in a Latin American food store.
It is a must for foods like salads, dips, tacos, elote, and soups. But it is used in a very small quantity. So, finding a cotija cheese substitute is not hard. And there are many kinds of cheese available that can perfectly fulfill the role of cotija substitute.
What Does Cotija Cheese Taste Like?
Cotija cheese has a salty taste, and it also has a strong aroma that adds to the deliciousness of the dishes. So, it is mostly used to pair with most Hispanic traditional dishes. It also becomes creamy when warmed. So it is used to add to stews and soups to make it smooth and thick.
How Is Cotija Cheese Used in Cooking?
Cotija cheese has a granular nature that gets softened when warmed. It is used to pair up with any spicy tomato or chile-based meals. It is also used in citrus-laden dishes. It makes soups and stews more creamy. Also used as a pretty and delicious garnish, cotija cheese is a big favorite for different recipes.
Some famous dishes with cotija cheese are:
- Mexican Street Corn
- Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Migas Recipe
- Easy Refried Beans
What Are the Most Popular Ways to Serve Cotija Cheese?
Cotija cheese has a specialty that makes dishes tastier. Its savory, salty flavor with brittle texture adds a special touch to different foods. Here are some of the most popular ways to serve cotija cheese:
- Tacos: Cotija goes to almost every taco filling. So what are you waiting for? Grab your freshly prepared homemade tortillas, some pickled red onions, chopped cilantro, and bowls of cotija to have a great time.
- Bean and cheese tostadas: Delicious, crispy homemade tostadas along with refried beans and cotija for a quick snack.
- Elotes: corn on the cob covered with mayonnaise and then crowned with cotija, lime juice, cilantro, and ancho chili powder is a very famous Mexican street food.
- Wet burritos and enchiladas: The creamy, saucy dishes are also nowhere behind. Cotija never fails to add a special touch to them too.
Why Does Cotija Cheese Need to Be Replaced?
At times, there can be many reasons for which cotija cheese may require to be replaced. And below-mentioned are some of them —
- Milk Allergy: As mentioned earlier, cotija cheese is prepared from cow’s milk. Many people tend to have milk allergies, for which consumption of cotija cheese may be dangerous for their health.
- Lactose Intolerance: Many people may be restricted from consuming cotija cheese for their lactose intolerance. As cotija cheese is quite fresh, its higher lactose content may cause some gastrointestinal issues.
- Availability: At some places, cotija cheese may not be available regularly. So it is important to get a substitute for cotija cheese.
Best Substitutes For Cotija Cheese
Having its roots in Mexico, cotija cheese gives us a range of dishes that have a salty finish. What can be better than a first-class cotija cheese over an elote during summertime? It serves as a great companion for nachos, tacos, eggs, meat, and many others. But it may not be easily available at some places.
What can I substitute for cotija cheese? This is a common question that most people think about during the unavailability of cotija.
When it comes to cooking, you can find many other options to impart a certain flavor or touch. Similarly, you can find several good substitute for cotija cheese when it is unavailable. The substitutes are as follows:
Looking for a sub for cotija cheese? Parmesan cheese is the best option that you should go for. The flavor and texture are quite similar to cotija and have a nutty undertone. It goes very well with Italian recipes like pasta, pizza, and risotto and can be blindly used in the recipes in place of cotija.
This is the freshest cheese that you can get. It is creamy and semi-sweet to taste. Cottage cheese is very similar to cream cheese, but it has a lower fat content. And this makes it a powerful and healthy substitute. Try this fresh cheese from the farm with some tortillas, and you will totally love it.
Also known as Pecorino Romano, this cheese is named after Rome. It has a near profile to Parmesan. It has a powerful salty punch and is perfect for casserole, soup or sauce recipes that go well with cotija.
This is an entirely different substitute for cotija. It has a sweet and salty taste with a mild scent. It is a cheddar type of cheese and is not very granular. Its special traits spice up any dish that you pair it with. If you are ever thinking of using canned nacho cheese, try using some Red Fox cheese. You won’t be disappointed. It can be easily shredded, which makes it an ideal topping for tacos and nachos. So, whenever you don’t have cotija cheese, Red Fox is a great substitute.
The tangy and salty flavor of feta with a salty aroma is the finest choice that you can make for pizza, salad, and others. It can also be used in crumbled vegetables or as a stuffing ingredient with peppers and other spices. It has its roots in Greece and has a creamy texture that is difficult to find. However, feta cheese differs in its flavor. So choosing the right feta will have a certain impact on your food.
This is another Mexican cheese that is of Hispanic type. It is also commonly known as queso añejo and mostly made from goat’s milk. But nowadays it is produced with cow’s milk too. Anejo is a common substitute for cotija cheese. And this is a must have for tacos, enchiladas, burritos or baked dishes.
This is an Italian cheese made from the milk of either goat or sheep. But other variants are also made with cow’s milk. Ricotta is more appealing for its visual appearance. It is a commonly used cheese for topping corn, in tacos and tostadas, as a cotija substitute. But for its milder flavor, it is not used in dishes like soups, casseroles, and sauces.
Technique of Making Cotija Cheese at Home
If cotija cheese is unavailable and you are not willing to use any alternative to cotija cheese, we have got you covered. Here is the fundamental recipe for preparing the cheese.
For Making Cheese:
- Raw or unhomogenized milk (8 cups)
- Calcium chloride (10 drops)
- Mesophilic starter culture (4 grains)
- Liquid rennet (1 ml) (This is to be diluted in 30ml non-chlorinated water)
- Cheese salt (2 tbsp)
For Making Brine:
- Boiled water (2 cups)
- Salt (2 tbsp)
- Citric acid (¼ tsp)
- Calcium chloride (10-12 drops)
- Set the lowest temperature for your oven and place a saucepan.
- Add milk and calcium chloride to it and stir it continuously until the milk reaches around 38°C. The heat should be low-medium.
- Remove the saucepan from the oven and add the starter culture. Allow it to rest for a minute or two and then stir for about half a minute.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid and then add to the oven for 20 minutes.
- Again remove the saucepan from heat and add in the cheese salt.
- Add in the diluted rennet, cover the saucepan and return it to the oven for an hour with the lowest temperature setting.
- After that, you will get curd as a result.
- Try to cut the curd into small cubes. If it is too soft, allow it to rest for another 15 minutes.
- Once you are done with cutting, allow the curd to sit for some more time.
Pressing The Curd
- Scoop out the curd slowly into a strainer or porous vessel lined with cheesecloth. Using a slotted spoon can make this job easier.
- Put the curd into a cheese press lined with cheesecloth. Keep the curd covered with the cloth and press for about half an hour.
- Move the cheese to the other side and press it for more than 12 hours.
- Mix in all the water, citric acid, salt, and calcium chloride to prepare the brine solution.
- Put the cheese in the brine for about 30 hours. Then take out the cheese and place it in a container that has draining facilities.
- Allow the cheese to freeze for the next 14 days. Remember to flip the cheese every alternative day. And if any signs of mold show up, then rub it with salt.
Cotija cheese is greatly loved. It is a must while preparing a Mexican dish. But if you don’t have it, don’t worry, you don’t have to change your plans. However, a cotija cheese substitute is very easy to get these days. So it won’t be an issue if you are unable to get it. Don’t forget to leave your precious comment on cotija cheese replacement.