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A Delicious Mexican Snack
Fried cheese, or queso frito, is a Latin American delicacy most notably as a Mexican treat that is perfect as an appetizer or afternoon snack, or even a breakfast treat. It is eaten not only in Mexico but is also popular in many Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas including Colombia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico.
Not every cheese will work—you need a cheese that is slightly spongy and a little bit crumbly with a high melting point. Most cheeses will just melt in the oil and make a big mess. The type of cheese to look for is literally called "frying cheese," or queso para frier. It is a fresh-tasting cheese that does not melt when exposed to high heat. You can also use queso asadero (grilling cheese), other Mexican cheeses, or halloumi, a Greek cheese.
These cheeses can withstand high temperatures and still hold its shape without melting. Frying or pan-searing will soften the cheese and result in a golden brown crust with a creamy, unmelted interior.
Unlike a mozzarella stick, this dish is not deep fried—instead, the cheese is cut into sticks and pan-fried in a hot non-stick skillet. Rather than slicing into sticks, some cultures prepare it in thin-slice form. And in Puerto Rico, you are most likely to find it breaded and fried in cubes as part of a breakfast meal.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
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Start With Fresh Cheese
To make this recipe, begin with a fresh Mexican cheese or queso de freier. You can also use queso blanco (white cheese) and queso fresco (farmer's cheese), which will work just as well. Unwrap the cheese from its packaging and place it on a cutting board or plate.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
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Slice the Cheese
Since the cheese is fried in finger-like pieces, you need to cut the cheese twice. First, slice it lengthwise into about 1/2-inch sticks.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
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Slice the Cheese a Second Time
You want each piece to be easy to eat with your hands, so the cheese needs to be cut one more time. Cut the slices lengthwise again, to form evenly-sized sticks.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Fry the Cheese
Heat up a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Place the cheese sticks, a few at a time, in the hot pan. Leave space, make sure to not overcrowd the pan. You will see the edges start to bubble, but the cheese will not melt.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
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Turn the Cheese
Once the underside is golden, use a spatula, and turn the cheese to its next side. Continue to cook until brown, turning the pieces of cheese until all four of the sides of each cheese stick are brown.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
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Serve the Cheese
Remove the hot cheese from the pan to a paper towel to absorb any greasiness. Serve immediately (or within minutes) with your favorite salsa. Fried cheese is also delicious with fruit preserves.
In Colombia, it is eaten with arepa (white cornmeal pancakes) and hot chocolate for breakfast or alone for afternoon snacks with coffee. Learn more about foods you may need to stock your pantry with to cook Colombian recipes.
In Puerto Rico, it may be served on top of tostones (green plantains) or maduros (sweet plantains).