If you have enjoyed any Mexican dishes, one thing is for sure; they are delicious! And one common topping used in the dishes is a white crumbling cheese- queso fresco! This cheese has a salty-tangy flavor, with a milky taste that quickly absorbs spice and herbs flavors. So how exactly do you use queso fresco?
The truth is, you can use queso fresco in so many ways you can quickly try in the comfort of your home. Just a generous sprinkle of queso fresco cheese on your rice dish can go a long way. It’s great on salads, and you will want to add it to a number of your dishes after tasting it.
So, learn how to use queso fresco in this post.
What is queso fresco made of?
Queso fresco is a fresh white cheese used in Mexican cuisines. It’s soft, milky, and has a mild taste. The cheese has a slightly rich creaminess like a breed of feta, farmer’s choice, and ricotta cheeses. The traditional queso fresco version is made from cow and goat milk.
Some recipes also combine the two to bring out that slightly salty taste. Queso fresco also features a tangy taste brought about by the acids added into the milk for curdling. What’s commonly used is rennet and lemon juice or vinegar.
Rennet is an enzyme famous in the cheese-making world, responsible for coagulating milk to curds. It can be in liquid form, tablet form, or powdered form:
- Liquid rennet
Liquid rennet is the most used since it is easily measured accurately. It comes in two main types; animal rennet and vegetable rennet.
- Rennet tablets
Rennet tablets keep long compared to other forms of rennet.
- Powdered rennet
Just like rennet tablets, this powdered version can keep liquids longer.
How to make queso fresco
Make the best queso fresco in your kitchen by following this recipe.
- 2 gallons’ milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1ml liquid rennet
- ¾ packet mesophilic culture
- Draining mat
- Cheese press
- Butter muslin
Heat the milk to 900 F by pouring it into a pot of hot water. You can also heat on the stove, ensuring you heat on low and stir as it warms. When the heat hits 900F, sprinkle the culture onto the surface. Leave it to rehydrate for 2 minutes before stirring, then remove the milk from the stove and set it aside for 45 minutes for the culture to kick in.
ii) Add rennet
Dilute rennet in ¼ cup water, and add into the milk, stirring gently for a minute. After that, leave the mixture to sit for a further 40minutes to curdle. You will notice soft curds forming after 15minutes. You can check whether the curds have been created by sticking a knife horizontally into the milk. A clean break means the curds are ready to be cut. If the whey is cloudy, wait further before cutting. A clear whey means you cut too late, so be keen to time correctly.
iii) Cutting curds
Firm curds mean it’s ready for cutting, and you can make 3/8th to 5/8th inches cut for easier drying. After that, allow the curds to set for 5 minutes to firm again from the cuts. The last step should be stirring them.
Iv) Cooking curds
Stir the curds slowly first while still heating (900 F). Keep stirring for 60 minutes. You can stir further if the curds haven’t hardened, and be free to dry the cheese to your liking. If the curds are a bit wet, acids will develop, and the final results will be weep whey. Here is how to identify fully cooked cheese:
- The curds will shrink in size.
- The curd will have a moderate resistance when pressed.
- Curds settle below the whey.
v) Removing whey
So once the curds settle and you have removed the whey, stir them so they separate and transfer them into a colander. Line a butter muslin on the colander, then leave the cheese to drain whey at 750 F. Draining at excess room temperature with excess moisture will result in a gassy curd with a flavor you won’t love. On the other hand, draining in low temperatures will be problematic.
vi) Salting and pressing
Lastly, add your salt into the cheese, then press it. To press, gather the curd to the center of the cloth and transfer it to mold. Next, fold the cloth and apply some weight lightly. Keep pressing with more pressure to achieve a firmer cheese block. So after that, you can remove the cloth, toss the cheese into the fridge and use it while still fresh.
What to do with queso fresco
You can use queso fresco in so many ways. It is usually added crumbled in dishes. Some of the ways you can use this cheese include:
You can sprinkle some queso fresco onto your grilled watermelon or salads of your choice.
Queso fresco is hard to melt. So the best option is adding it to the sauce. Ensure you grate the cheese before making the sauce, so it doesn’t take much time to soften up. It will have a smooth texture once it cooks thoroughly.
You can incorporate queso fresco in your burritos for extra deliciousness, thanks to its soft state.
Crumble and sprinkle cheese in your black bean soup or tortilla soup to add a savor kick. Queso fresco is perfect in all temperatures, so you can add it to cold summer soup or warmer soups.
- You can add herbs and spices like black pepper and garlic powder.
- Patience is the key! Don’t rush to finish the process; you will end up ruining the cheese anyway.
What does queso fresco taste like?
Queso fresco is slightly salty with some tanginess brought by the acids. It tastes similar to mozzarella cheese and goat cheese. Since its consumed fresh, it has this bright, mild, and milky taste. Unlike other cheese, queso fresco is not creamy, so there are no hints of butter taste. Queso fresco is famous for its smoothness when heated.
How to use queso fresco on tacos
Tacos are magical. They are crunchy and are a fast dinner option when craving something delicious. You can fill the tacos with either fish, chicken, or beef.
Beef queso fresco tacos
- 2 cups cabbage- thinly sliced
- 1-pound beef steak
- 1 cup queso fresco cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- Lime juice- 2 medium-sized
- ½ tsp chipotle chili pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 ripe avocados- medium size and sliced
- Mix the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl.
- Sprinkle your beef steak with chipotle pepper and some salt.
- Place a pan onto the stove, pour some olive oil, and heat on medium.
- Place the steak onto the pan and cook for up to 6 minutes.
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the steak. If it has hit 1450F, then it’s ready.
- Remove the steak from the stove and place it on a cutting board.
- Cover the steak, leave it for about 5 minutes, and then slice it thinly against its grain.
- Add your toppings, steak, cabbage mixture, avocados, and queso fresco onto the tortilla.
Fish queso fresco tacos
In this recipe, we will use swordfish. The first step should be tossing the fish into lime juice and cumin before serving in tacos.
- 1 ½ lb. swordfish
- 12 corn tortillas
- ¾ cup queso fresco
- 2 medium tomatoes- diced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 cup cabbage- thinly sliced
- ½ tbsp. cumin
For the avocado salsa
- 2 avocados- chopped
- 1/3 cup onions- chopped
- 5 seeded serrano chiles- chopped finely
- 1 garlic clove
- Lime juice- 1 lime
- Apply a coat of oil onto your fish the season with salt and pepper.
- Next is grilling or broiling the fish until it cooks. After that, you can remove the bones and the skin.
- Make wide strips into the fish, and mix the fish with lime juice and cumin.
- Add the avocado salsa ingredients into a bowl and mix them well. Do not forget to sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- Add the fish, tomatoes, avocado salsa, queso fresco, and cabbage onto your corn tortillas, then fold them.
- Enclose the fold and serve while still warm.
Queso chicken tacos
Your family will love the tender chicken breasts with avocado, Pico de Gallo, and queso fresco.
- 12 tortillas
- Pico de Gallo (mixture of chopped tomato, cilantro, onion, salt, jalapeno pepper, and lime juice)
- Queso fresco
- Cilantro lime sauce
- Avocado- sliced
- 2 tbsps. olive oil
- 4 chicken breasts(boneless)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ tsp chipotle chili powder
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp paprika
- Pound your chicken breasts by placing them between wax paper sheets.
- Mix all the seasonings into a bowl, season the chicken breast well, and then set aside.
- Place a pan onto your stove and pour olive oil generously.
- Add the chicken and leave it to cook for 7 minutes until both sides are fully cooked.
- Remove the chicken from the stove and set it aside before slicing.
- After that, you can cut the chicken into cubes and mix it with Pico de Gallo.
- Place the chicken mixture on your tortillas and add your favorite toppings!
- You can use salsa in place of Pico de Gallo.
- The size of the tortillas varies. Be free to incorporate any size.
- You can slow cook taco chicken instead of using the seasoned chicken breast.
- Incorporate toppings of your choice!
- Serve the chicken tacos with guacamole, black bean soup, or corn pudding.
How to use queso fresco in enchiladas
This queso fresco enchiladas recipe is relatively easy and delicious. By just rolling tortillas dipped in enchilada sauce, you get to enjoy the best! Just like with queso fresco tacos, you can use fillings of your choice.
- 8 tortillas
- 1 cup enchilada sauce
- 2 ½ cups crumbled queso fresco
- Olive oil
- Fresh cilantro
- Onions- chopped
- Lettuce- shredded
- Pour your enchilada sauce onto a pan and warm it on low heat.
- In another pan, sprinkle some olive oil (coating the whole bottom) and warm on high heat for 3 minutes.
- Dip the corn tortilla into the oil for 5 seconds, flip to the other side, and heat for additional 5 minutes.
- After that, you can remove the tortillas and drain the excess oil onto paper towels.
- Dip tortillas, one after the other, into the enchilada sauce, coating both sides.
- Add ¼ cup queso fresco at the tortilla center, lettuce, cilantro, and onions, and then roll them up.
- Place them onto a heatproof plate or in the oven.
- Warm the tortillas before rolling them up to prevent them from cracking. Warm them in hot oil or the microwave.
- You can use hands to flip tortillas instead of tongs as they sometimes get messy.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of queso fresco.
- You can add the ready enchiladas in the oven at 2500F as you finish preparing the rest.
How to use cacique queso fresco
Cacique queso fresco is a famous Mexican cheese. Cacique queso fresco cheese balances spicy dishes and can be topped or stuffed. So here is a dip recipe you can use with queso fresco.
Cacique queso fresco dip
Try out this recipe and serve as an appetizer or use it as a spread.
- 1 packet of cacique queso fresco
- 1 jar salsa
- 1 jalapeno pepper- diced (should be seeded)
- 1 bunch of cilantro- chopped
- 2 hot pepper sauce
- Cut the queso fresco in half and transfer it into a microwave-safe dish.
- Apply the salsa on the queso fresco generously. If there are any residual juices in the jar, pour them into the queso fresco, so it marinates in it.
- Add your toppings; cilantro, hot sauce, and jalapeno peppers.
- Cover the microwavable dish with plastic wrap and leave it to marinate for 2-3 hours.
- Place the queso fresco into the microwave for about 3 minutes to heat.
- Use hot pads to remove the hot dish from the microwave to prevent accidents.
Frequently asked questions(FAQS)
Q.Is queso fresco bad?
Queso fresco is low in fat and sodium, perfect for a lacto-vegetarian diet. So if you are conscious of a healthy diet, you incorporate queso fresco into your recipes.
Q. Can I use queso fresco in my weight loss journey?
Yes! Queso fresco is healthy, and it includes all macronutrients with healthy calorie levels.
Q. Why does queso fresco not melt?
The reason your cheese might not be melting is you could have exposed it to too much heat. Once exposed to high heat, the proteins separate from the water and fat.
Q. Why does queso fresco turn grainy?
Queso fresco is a crumbling cheese and so doesn’t melt fully. Other possible reasons include; excess heat, too much acid, or a low amount of fat.
You now understand how you can use queso fresco. You can grab a packet of queso fresco from your nearest grocery store to make some delicious tacos or enchiladas for your loved ones. You can even try making some homemade queso fresco with the guide above. And since queso fresco is enjoyed fresh, making some in your kitchen would be the best choice!