While reading about Peruvian Cuisine at this website, I came across another Spanish word that I didn’t know: tequeños. It turns out that they are a Venezuelan fried food. In Colombia, they are called deditos de queso. In the USA, we call them fried cheese sticks.
However, the difference among the countries is not only in the names. First of all, the recipe I found for South American cheese sticks calls for queso fresco rather than mozzarella. Secondly, the tequenos aren’t rolled in breadcrumbs. They are wrapped in something that appears to me a cross between pie crust and pizza dough.
I must admit that I haven’t ever bought any authentic tequeños, although I have seen them in the frozen section of different grocery stores around town. So, I can’t tell you whether or not the following recipe is what the “natives” use. Also, I chose to bake rather than deep-fry my cheese mummies, so the flavor won’t be as rich.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
125 gm cold butter
1/4 cup cold water
1 lb queso fresco (for those in the USA, you are most likely to find this as a “Mexican” cheese that sort of looks like Feta, but should be much cheaper.)
Prepare the dough as you would for pie crust, adding the egg just before the cold water. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile slice your cheese into equal pieces about the size of your “pinky” finger (one recipe suggested 5 x 1 x 1 centimeter).
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, to a thickness of about 1/2 a centimeter. Cut this into long strips about 1 centimeter wide. Wrap each piece of cheese in strips of dough. First, lengthwise, from head to toe, then around like you would imagine bandaging an Egyptian mummy. Be sure that there are no openings for the cheese to leak out.
At this point you can do several things. You can freeze your cheese sticks for later. You can deep fry them in oil until they are golden. Or you can bake them in an oven that has been preheated to 400*F for 10-15 minutes.
The website for Peruvian cuisine suggested that people like to eat Los Tequeños with hot sauce, but I think they’re just fine with a cup of hot chocolate (Joel might suggest Juan Valdez coffee). If you want to try something a little different, you can vary the fillings like this company in Miami, Florida. They offer guava with cream cheese or chocolate fillings.