This Mexican Street Corn – Esquites – is CRAZY GOOD! It works double duty too; as a side or a scrumptious dip!
I love exploring recipes that have fun, fascinating history and rich, ethnic roots. This kind of cuisine has the ability to paint pictures of people and places far away and transport me to areas of the world that I may never have the pleasure of visiting.
I’ve been reading rave reviews about Mexican Street Corn for some time now, and have been intrigued each time I’ve seen a new version on Pinterest. I have to admit though, I read a delightful, authentic description of Mexican Street Corn recently, and it compelled me to purchase a big bag of the prettiest corn I could find and start tinkering with limes, jalapeños, cotija cheese and chili powder…
The elotero, or corn-on-the-cob vendor is one of the most appreciated vendors in the streets of Mexico. His announcement of “EEELLLOOTTEES!” is awaited with anticipation throughout all Mexican neighborhoods. Riding by in his carrito elotero or corn vendor cart, he hauls a large pot of boiling water, full of fresh ears of corn cooked to perfection.
With extra long tongs, the elotero pulls a plump corn on the cob from the depths of this giant pot of gold, stabs the bottom with a wooden stick and shakes off the excess water.
“Como se lo preparo?” “What would you like on it?” he asks, as he grabs what appears to be a paint brush, dips it in a large tub of butter and “paints” the corn in the creamy, thick yellow base. Toppings choices may include, mayonnaise, crema, cotija cheese, salt, chile powder and lemon. My choice: chile powder, cheese and a squeeze of lime.
Ericka – Nibbles and Feasts Blog
A bit more research revealed that, though Ericka’s description is totally authentic, there are different presentations for Mexican Street Corn., In southern and central Mexico, the same type of corn is sold in stalls and markets, however the kernels are cut from the cobs and the flavorful corn is served in bowls. When prepared this way, it’s called esquites instead of elote. The toppings are pretty consistent however, with both versions including lemon or lime juice, chile powder or hot sauce, salt and mayonnaise.
Lot’s of the Mexican Street Corn recipes I found online call for the corn to be grilled or charred in a hot skillet. While I’m sure this is quite delicious, I decided to keep mine simple, and let the fresh, sweet corn shine. I cook my corn in the microwave very lightly – actually just to the point where the color changes to a more vibrant hue and the corn is crisp-tender. The only other cooking involved in the recipe a super brief sauté of a few cloves of minced garlic; just long enough to mellow out the flavor.
Here at The Café, we like things spicy, but not super hot, so I used one finely diced jalapeño. Feel free to add more, if you like things a little more firey. I added lots of thinly sliced scallions and finely chopped cilantro to my version. The cotija cheese, chili powder, lime juice and mayo, I kept quite traditional.
Speaking of mayonnaise, I had to ask Scott to stop at the grocery store and pick some up, as I rarely use it and it’s just not a staple in my fridge. If I were smart, I’d make my own, like one of my favorite blogger friends does. Sue, from The View from Great Island has a very intriguing 30-Second Mayonnaise that looks amazing and so simple. You’ll want to check out her blog – I want to make everything she posts! But back to the mayo, I’ve had a few failures attempting homemade mayonnaise, so I’m working up my courage again, but one of these days….
Okay, does this Mexican Street Corn warrant the rave reviews and extreme popularity on the bustling streets of a zillion big and small Mexican cities? Oh yes!! The first time I made it, we had been invited to have a burger cookout at my son’s. We enjoyed it immensely as an appetizer with tortilla chips, but it was so delicious, we decided to also serve it as a side with the burgers.
It’s sweet, spicy, crunchy, tangy, creamy and just plain old super delicious. I recently served it for a nice dinner with pan-seared salmon. It’s also great with grilled chicken, pork or beef and would be perfect to take to a picnic or potluck. Serve it warm or at room temp, either way, I think you’ll flip over the bright fresh flavor. You’ll probably be asked for the recipe, so make a few extra copies, or better yet, just send them over to The Café!
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- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
- 8 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
- 1 medium bunch green (spring) onions, finely sliced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2-3 ounces cotija cheese*, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon chili powder, to taste
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- Heat oil in a medium size skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, swirling the pan a few times to keep the garlic from browning. Set aside to cool while you prepare the corn.
- Place two ears of corn, at a time, in a gallon size ziplock bag. Wet your fingers under the faucet and sprinkle a bit of water into the bag with your hand (just a bit, probably about a teaspoon). Seal the bag and place in microwave for 3½ minutes. Corn should be crisp-tender and the kernels should not be wrinkled. If they are wrinkled after the first two ears, reduce the cooking time a bit. Microwaves vary widely in intensity. Remove ears from bag onto a cutting board or work surface to cool a bit. Repeat till all 8 ears are cooked.
- When corn is cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a fairly large bowl.
- Add garlic (and oil), jalapeño, green onions and cilantro. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, combine mayo, lime juice, cotija cheese, chili powder and salt. Whisk till smooth. Add to corn mixture and stir to combine.
- Taste and add more salt, if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature. To warm, just place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with more cilantro, a bit of finely diced jalapeño and a sprinkle of chili powder, if desired. The cotija cheese pretty much "melts" into the delicious sauce, so if you want to sprinkle a little more on the top as a garnish, that would be pretty too.
- Serves 8-10 as an appetizer, 4-6 as a side.
You could also use Queso Fresco or even Feta if you can't find the Mexican cheeses.