Oaxaca Cheese or Queso Oaxaca (wuh·HAA·kah) originates from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico for which it is named. Oaxaca cheese is a semi-soft, white, artisan cheese made from whole cow’s milk. Oaxaca cheese is made with the same cheese process, pasta filata, that is used to make caciocavallo, stracciata, provolone and mozzarella among others. It is thought that this cheese-making process was brought to Mexico from Italy by Dominican monks.
How is Oaxaca Cheese Made
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To make Oaxaca cheese, cow’s milk is warmed, curdled and allowed to rest. The resulting curds are cut into small pieces and the whey is drained off. The curds are allowed to rest and then steeped in hot water. When the curds begin to float, most of the liquid is removed again and the curds are kneaded and stretched until the desired soft, elastic consistency is obtained.
The cheese is then pulled into long ribbons which are commonly then wound into a round knot. This helps preserve its elasticity and creates its unmistakable presentation. Similar to mozzarella, Oaxaca cheese is traditionally dipped into salt water at the end of the process to form a thin, protective barrier to help maintain the required level of moisture.
How Does Oaxaca Cheese Taste
Oaxaca cheese is mildly earthy, buttery and slightly salty to taste. Commonly known as Quesillo, Oaxaca cheese melts well making it a popular cheese for quesadillas, tlayudas and queso fundido. It can also be grated and sprinkled over enchiladas, beans and salads.
What is Oaxaca Cheese Similar To
Oaxaca cheese is similar in taste to unaged Monterey jack and mozzarella cheese, but with a stringy texture. As you would imagine, American string cheese is the easiest substitute to find.