Cotija (Koh-TEE,-Hah) cheese answers the Italian urge to sprinkle almost all savory dishes with grated Parmesan. Mexicans use Cotija to sprinkle a strong, cheesy-salty flavor as a garnish to compliment usually hot, savory dishes. While Parmesan requires grating, Cotija is softer and is a more easily crumbled to be an accent topping.
Salty, cream-colored, Feta-like, Cotija is made from milk, skim milk, enzymes and salt. It is sold in rounds or wedges from rounds, Cotija does not melt readily. While artisan amounts of Cotija are deemed very special, mass produced Cotija comes pretty close to special in taste and texture.
Many cheeses are named after their city of origination. Cotija’s town is in the Mexican State of Michoacan, a little north of the state of Jalisco. The cheese was made official in the year 1896. The small town, known for its agriculture and ranching, is also famed for being the birthplace of many religious leaders.
Cotija cheese, like milk, is a good source of calcium and protein. However, it also contains a goodly amount of sodium.
This cheese is available in all Latin American markets and increasingly some of the big supermarkets.
Mexico and Central America enjoy many cheeses, some as ingredients, others for sprinkling on a dish as a garnish. Here are some:
- Queso Panela
- Queso de Oaxaca
- Queso Fresco
A popular Mexican use for Cotija cheese is with corn-on-the cob. They brush shucked, grilled corn cobs with mayonnaise, roll them in crumbled Cotija, then sprinkled with chile powder.
- Black olives
- Refried beans
- Wet burritos
Below are foodsites with recipes using Cotija cheese.