Photo credit: sigmafoodsusa

“That cheese I like,” is what my middle daughter calls cotija (coat-eeha) cheese. She sprinkles it on nearly everything. And for good reason: the cheese has the sharpness of grated Parmesan, but not the bite. While the crumbly cheese  originated in Cotija area in the state of Michoacan in Mexico, I’m finding it more widely available in grocery stores in the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know about using cotija cheese:

When do you use cotija cheese?

Sprinkle it on salads and Mexican dishes. Oooo, and it’s also good on roasted vegetables and to garnish soups.

Can I use it in place of Parmesan cheese?

I wouldn’t. Cotija is saltier than Parmesan, so a little goes a long way. I find that it’s creamier, smaller, and softer too. BUT, I would use a little bit of Parmesan cheese as a substitute for cotija in Mexican dishes. The Americanized versions of enchiladas, tostadas, and tacos are often coated with bland, cheddar cheese. Why not try making your dish a bit more authentic (hey, and tastier) by adding a bit of grated Parmesan on top and not using any other cheese?

Where can I find it?

cojita-coated tostada

Your best bet would be to look at a Mexican grocers, but large supermarkets may have it too.

Is there anything else I should know?

Like grated Parmesan, cotija cheese lasts for months when it’s refrigerated, so no rush to use it right away. Also, cotjia cheese doesn’t melt. It’s often called, Mexican Parmesan.

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