Sunday, August 19, 2012

Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)

As far as I am concerned, elote (Mexican corn slathered in mayo and topped with cheese, lime juice and chili powder) is one of the best things to happen to corn since...  Well, since ever.   I discovered elote a few years ago at a Mexican restaurant in NYC and haven't looked bad since.  It is just so delicious.  I have never heard of esquites, but according to Wikipedia, esquites is what happens when you cut the kernels off the ears of corn and make a salad out of the elote, rather than serving the whole corn on the cob.  Although I have been tempted several times to just bite the bullet, we never made elote at home because I have an aversion to adding mayo to dishes.  Somehow I can eat dishes at restaurants that I know include mayonnaise (provided that the level of mayo isn't crazily apparent), but making anything at home that includes more than a tbsp of mayonnaise just isn't my thing.  But this dish might change my mind.  Somehow it seems more palatable to me to add a little mayonnaise to a corn salad, rather than slathering it all over corn on the cob.  I know it makes no sense, but sometimes I just don't make sense.  I am ok with that (and I like to think that Alex is too).  This dish had everything that I love about elote (the combination of sweet corn, salty cotija cheese, cilantro and the warmth of the chili powder is delicious) in a form that I think works better for apartment living.  If we had a grill it would be a lot easier to grill whole ears of corn, but in an apartment it works better to just cut the kernels of corn off the ears and sear them in a cast iron skillet.  And it is just yummy.  I don't know if traditional recipes for elote include scallion greens and jalapenos, but I thought both were really nice additions to the dish, which made it feel a little more salad-like and gave it some additional freshness and flavor.  I would make this dish as a side for any Mexican meal - some esquites, fresh guacamole and tacos sounds like a perfect summer meal to me!

Recipe after the jump!

Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)
Available at Serious Eats
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces feta or cotija cheese, finely crumbled
1/2 cup finely sliced scallion greens
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime
Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and charring until well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add mayonnaise, cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment