Oaxaca cheese (also known as queso Oaxaca) is named after the city of Oaxaca in Mexico, where it is still made today. It has a yellowish-white tint and is a stretchy, stringy, creamy cheese with a mild, buttery, somewhat salty flavor. Because it’s a rindless cheese, it’s sometimes coiled into a yarn-like ball and sold as a rope. This helps to keep the flavor and flexibility of the semi-soft cheese. The pasta filata cheese family includes Oaxaca. Though the pasta filata procedure originated in Italy, Dominican monks who resided in Oaxaca are thought to have carried the tradition to Mexico. Because water buffalo milk, which is generally used to produce mozzarella, was unavailable, they substituted cow’s milk.
The reliability of Oaxaca cheese, on the other hand, is what it excels at. Nachos, chili con queso, queso fundido, enchiladas, and chiles Rellenos are just a few examples of foods that feature melted cheese. Because Oaxaca cheese is such a famous Mexican cheese, it may be found in many supermarkets and boutique Mexican grocers. Both mozzarella and provolone have a similar texture and can be used in place of Oaxaca cheese if it is unavailable.
What is Oaxaca Cheese?
Etla, a village in Oaxaca in southern Mexico, was the birthplace of Oaxaca cheese. The cheese has a slight, salty tang and a milky flavor. It’s usually served fresh, torn, or shredded into thin strands as a sandwich topping or melted as a filler or topping. It can be obtained in well-stocked supermarkets’ cheese sections or Latin American grocery stores.
Fresh mozzarella and American string cheese share similar characteristics with Oaxaca cheese: it’s firm but bouncy and flexible and can be torn apart into thin shreds. These cheeses are pasta filata (Italian for “spun paste”), and the curds are cooked, stretched, and pulled into forms. While Oaxaca cheese is usually marketed as a ball, it is stretched into long strands and then twisted, making it string cheese in more ways than one.
How is Oaxaca Cheese Made?
Heat raw or pasteurized cow’s milk, then add cultures and acid until the pH drops low enough for the rennet to be added. Rennet causes the milk to coagulate into a semisolid curd and then slice into tiny pieces. The curds and whey are gently cooked and stirred to assist the curds in releasing moisture and firming up. The curds are drained and left to continue to acidify at room temperature.
The curds are then stretched. Curd pieces are softened in boiling water before being formed into long, thin strips. After being salted, the strips are coiled into a softball-sized mass. Before being packaged and sold, the cheese balls are allowed to cool.
Substitutes for Oaxaca Cheese
If you don’t have Oaxaca on hand or can’t locate it in a store near you, some alternatives have a creamy texture and a buttery flavor. As a general rule, various stretched-curd or semi-soft cheeses are the ideal alternatives for Oaxaca.
Mozzarella: Because of its similar consistency and flavor profile, mozzarella is one of the most common Oaxaca alternatives. Although Mozzarella is slightly softer than Oaxaca, the rich, milky flavors are similar. If at all possible, choose a “low moisture” mozzarella variety.
String cheese: Because of its consistency and flavor characteristics, mozzarella is one of the most preferred Oaxaca alternatives. Although Mozzarella is a little spongier than Oaxaca, the rich, milky flavors are similar. If at all feasible, select a “low moisture” mozzarella kind.
Queso asadero: The stringy cheese queso asadero hails from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Although Asadero is drier than Oaxaca, it is nevertheless delicious. It’s frequently used in tangy dips and spreads, such as chile con queso.
Monterey Jack: This semi-hard American cheese is recognized for its mild, nutty, somewhat sweet flavor, velvety mouthfeel, and good melting capabilities. It is manufactured from cow’s milk, and it’s an ordinary cheese that’s available in most supermarkets.
Where to Buy Oaxaca Cheese?
Oaxaca cheese can be found at Mexican or Latin American supermarket stores. Oaxaca is usually sold by the pound, but some manufacturers sell it pre-shredded in resealable bags. Oaxaca-style cheese can also be found in the specialty cheese section of most Whole Foods, HEB, and Publix stores and in the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store.
What are the Uses Of Oaxaca Cheese?
Use Oaxaca cheese on top of Mexican meals like tortas and cemitas, or bake it in a skillet with salsa verde for queso fundido. It’s an excellent filler for Chile Relleno, consisting of battered and fried poblano peppers packed with spicy, gooey melted cheese. It’s a traditional cheese with pupusas, quesadillas, enchiladas, beans, and other Latin American cuisines. Because Oaxaca cheese has a creamy, mild flavor and melts readily, it’s an excellent stuffing for quesadillas, enchiladas, and poblano peppers. It can also be shredded and sprinkled on soups, tostadas, tacos, and beans as a garnish. The buttery richness of Oaxaca cheese is ideal for chile Rellenos and other savory meals.
How to Store Oaxaca Cheese?
Refrigerate Oaxaca cheese that hasn’t been opened. Wrap Oaxaca cheese tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight plastic zip-top bag or resealable container after being opened. Refrigerate for up to one week in the coldest region of the refrigerator. If there is any mold on the cheese, it should be thrown out.
While freezing, Oaxaca cheese will change its texture when used fresh; frozen and thawed cheese will still melt properly when used in cooking. Unopened Oaxaca should be frozen in its original vacuum-sealed plastic packaging or wrapped firmly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then placed in an airtight zipper-lock plastic bag. Store for up to three months in the freezer, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Mexico’s cheese is a semi-soft white cow’s milk cheese. It gets its name from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, where it was born. Oaxaca cheese, like mozzarella, is made by stretching the curd with the pasta filata method. Long, flat strands of cheese are sometimes twisted into a ball and marketed in this manner. The cheese in this form is called quesillo [pronounced Kay-SEE-yoh], which means “rope” or “string” cheese and resembles a ball of huge strands of thread. Top prepared pizza dough with sliced fresh tomatoes, shredded Oaxaca or Asadero cheese, sliced black olives, sliced grilled chicken or cooked minced beef, and chopped roasted chile peppers for a great Mexican pizza.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and browning. Before serving, garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced green onion. Oaxaca cheese has a soft, silky feel. The flavor is light and buttery, and it does not overpower the items with which it is served. It reminds me of a young Monterey Jack cheese in texture and flavor. For fresh usages, such as shredding over foods or on sandwiches, other young pasta filata-style cheeses like fresh mozzarella, manufactured with water buffalo or cow’s milk, or Armenian string cheese might be a good stand-in for Oaxaca cheese. Fresh or low-moisture mozzarella—the kind often used in meals like pizza—works well for melting. Other mild melting cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, Colby, Mild Cheddar, or Provolone, will perform the same, albeit the flavor differs.