With its assertive flavor and melting-resistant character, Cotija cheese has been called the Parmigiano-Reggiano of Mexico.
Both cheeses are made from cow's milk, and are popular for dusting onto dishes for a salty accent. Like Italian and domestic Parmesans, grains of Cotija will soften under heat, but they will not melt.
That has made it a natural for topping refried beans and grating into pasta or rice salads. It also is sliced or crumbled into salads, much like feta cheese. (There are some differences; unlike Parmigiano-Reggiano, cotija's curd is not cooked before being pressed, and it is never aged more than a year.)
Once rarely available outside parts of the United States without substantial Mexican populations, Cotija is now available in many supermarket cheese sections.
State your name: Cotija gets its name from the town of Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
This grilled corn method, with the ears dusted with shredded Cotija, draws from Rick Bayless and Mark Bittman's recipes. I recommend you eat it outside, if possible, where stray Cotija crumbs won't seem so gauche.
> Grilled Corn Mexican Style
8 ears corn
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon chile powder
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled or shredded
Prepare a grill for high heat.
Shuck corn and remove silk.
In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise with lime juice, chile powder, salt and pepper.
Put cobs on grate and grill until some kernels are browned, about 3 to 4 minutes, then roll to expose new area to heat. You may hear kernels popping.
Grill the corn, turning regularly, until about half or more of the kernels are browned or blackened. Remove from heat.
Spread a coat of chile-lime mayonnaise onto the corn. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese, and serve with lime wedges.