How to Cook with Queso Fresco – Tacos de Bistec & Elote
This blog post has been compensated by Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. All opinions are mine alone. #LaVaquitaCheese #CollectiveBias #Ad
Growing up, I ate a lot of Tex-Mex food, but we just called it Mexican food. As it turns out, moving within a few miles of the Mexican border, I’m getting an education on proper Mexican food. Well, proper for the South Texas/Tamaulipas region, at least!
I was surprised when my very first plate of tacos came out to the table. They were so tiny! Each traditional taco is very small, consisting of two bites apiece and often sold in orders of six. The best way I can think to describe Mexican street tacos, or tacos de bistec, is fresh. Sometimes you’ll get a taco that’s super heavy and really oily, but for the most part they are light and fresh tasting. And oh my goodness, that crumbly cheese!
Long before I lived here, back when I was just visiting Rob while we tried things out long-distance-wise, I came to love Elote, or corn in a cup. As tacos can be light and fresh, corn in a cup is a bit heavier, but it still makes for a great snack. You can get elote at any decent snack stand, and it pairs well with a fruit cup with chamoy or tart frozen yogurt with mixed fruit and honey. Mmm.
It’s pretty interesting because no two places make corn in the cup exactly the same. I figure everybody has their favorite brands of things and that changes the flavor a bit. At a little party store, I found everything I’d need to make elote, including the cups! It was explained to me how to make the perfect elote. Then at a snack stand at a grocery store, a kind gentleman explained his idea of the perfect elote. I’ve borrowed from both of them to make my own recipe, but one thing both told me, you gotta go with La Vaquita® Queso Fresco!
It’s no surprise that La Vaquita® is suggested by the home chefs around here… first made out of a home in Houston, Maria Castro created small batches of artisanal quality, authentically Mexican cheese recipes. From a household kitchen to a household name, La Vaquita® is pretty much synonymous with Hispanic cuisine here in Texas. Seriously, it’s just that tasty!
Within a few weeks of living here, I became as fond of tacos de bistec as elote, so Mr. Rob put on his cooking apron and decided to work out how to make the tacos at home. We tried a whole bunch of every possible ingredient, and I hit up strangers in the grocery store to get ideas and tips that ranged from whether you should or should not chop up the cilantro to which kind of steak tastes the best.
I’m pretty excited because today is your lucky day! I’m sharing not one, but TWO, of my favorite recipes that you can make with La Vaquita® Queso Fresco. Now, La Vaquita® has a range of different Latin cheeses, including several crumbling cheeses and Oaxaca, a melting cheese that has a little bit of a butter flavor. Oh, and then there is Crema! Oooh, crema is this smooth, thin crema that you can pour onto just about anything Mexican food and it is fab. I especially love it on top of enchiladas. So yummy! But I’m getting sidetracked…
Grab some queso fresco, crumble that business by hand, and let’s first grab a quick snack. That’s right, we’re making Elote!
ELOTE – Corn in a Cup!
This is a fun mid-day snack or side dish that is both filling and tasty.
- La Vaquita Queso Fresco crumbling cheese
- frozen white corn kernels
- chili powder (we prefer Ancho chili powder)
- Cook corn according to package directions to your desired tenderness. We use white corn as it is pretty much the standard here in South Texas. You’re going to get grief if you try to pass off yellow corn here, but in all honesty, I think it tastes just as good if it’s all you can find! Once cooked, place in a cup (or a snack sized bowl!)
- Squeeze 1/4 of a fresh lime into the corn.
- Top with a layer of mayonnaise. Yes… mayo. I know. It sounds weird, but it is AMAZING. The amount you use is totally relative to the size of your cup. You typically get a layer of about 1/4-1/2 thick at restaurants.
- Crumble a healthy amount of La Vaquita® Queso Fresco and push into the mayonnaise. The more queso fresco, the better!
- In a small dish combine a tiny amount of water in a small amount of dried chili powder. You want to create a paste. Top your corn in a cup with a small dollop of your chili, to taste.
- Garnish with a slice of lime.
Oh, man! Doesn’t that sound interesting? I can tell you it is so, so good. Don’t let the mayo put you off, it’s seriously amazing business up here.
Ready for some tacos? Heck yes, you are!
Tacos de Bistec – Mexican Street Tacos
These are the same tacos you can find in restaurants, at taco trucks, and by sellers in the street during events. They are inexpensive to make and packed full of amazing Mexican flavor you must taste to believe! I’ve been told there are two acceptable methods to cooking the meat. You can cook and then dice the finished meat, or dice raw and then cook, which is the method I prefer best.
- La Vaquita Queso Fresco crumbling cheese
- steak (we use thin cut sirloin)
- corn tortillas (we use raw that we cook up as needed)
- sliced white onions
- diced white onion
- sliced avocado
- salsa verde (optional)
- Add a small amount of oil to a skillet and saute your sliced onions until translucent. Once done to your liking, set aside.
- Chop your steak into tiny pieces and brown in a skillet.
- Squeeze half a lime per pound of beef into the finished meat, while still hot in the skillet.
- Wipe your skillet clean and heat through your corn tortillas. A small amount of vegetable oil can help to soften packaged corn tortillas.
- Build your tacos with meat, chopped onion, sliced avocado and a healthy smattering of La Vaquita® Queso Fresco.
- Serve immediately with sauteed onions, a fresh lime wedge and salsa verde on the side, if you’d like.
The great thing about street tacos is that they are pretty versatile and they don’t have to be perfectly authentic to still taste amazing. Does cilantro taste like soap to you? (I totally read about that on some science-y website!) Nix it! Don’t like onions? Leave them out. Heck, we’ve even substituted beef with shrimp because freshly caught Gulf Shrimp is CHEAP down here!
I promise as long as you’ve got some amazing queso fresco and fresh limes you just can’t go wrong no matter what you add in or leave out. Dinner is going to be seriously GOOD!
Now some day Rob and I have decided that we’re going to learn how to make pupusas. They’re this amazing little filled torta type of thing and they use a cheese very similar to queso fresco like La Vaquita® Queso Fresco Salvadoreno, so keep your eyes peeled for that awesomeness once we get our recipe perfected!
But for now, feast your eyes on the best tacos de bistec around, made even better with La Vaquita®! Be sure to keep up with what La Vaquita® is putting down by giving them a quick follow on Facebook and earn $$$ with this Ibotta offer!