Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
Last summer I had a serious addiction to ‘Elote” (Grilled Mexican Corn) which I wrote about here. The recipe was buried in a post along with a few other recipes and I don’t think it got the attention it deserved. It was the tastiest thing I’ve eaten in a while and I could hardly wait for corn to come back in season so I could eat it again. Elote is corn that is grilled until it starts to caramelize on the outside. It is then slathered with a sauce consisting of mayonnaise, lime juice and chili powder then sprinkled with cheese. Yes, I know it sounds a little over the top, but that’s only because it is. The only problem with this one is that it can be a little on the messy side. I like getting down and dirty as much as the next guy, but when you are having company it can be a little much. So I’ve found a better way to serve this delightful dish…say hello to my new little friend, “Esquites”.
Esquites is the same great recipe I grew to love last year but cut from the corn and plated like a salad. It is just as good (if not better) and it can be easily prepared ahead of time making it perfect for entertaining. Esquites in Mexico is more or less street food or ‘antojito’. It is the kind of thing you would buy at a festival, a market or from a street vendor. Traditionally, the corn is boiled, then sautéed in butter with onions and chilies. For my tastes I like it grilled (hey, this is California after all). To prepare the corn you will want to husk it completely and remove all the silk. Then just brush it with a little vegetable oil and grill it. Once it is grilled it is just a matter of cutting it off the cob and assembling your esquites. As I mentioned before esquites can be made ahead of time and if you are taking it somewhere, it travels well. I love esquites served warm right off the grill but it is ok at room temperature or even cold (as in midnight refrigerator runs). If you are adding avocado it is always best to add it before you are ready to eat it.
When shopping for corn, always make sure to buy the freshest and most locally grown corn you can find. I really love the flavor that grilling lends to this dish so if you are using frozen corn or sautéing it instead of grilling it I don’t want to hear about it! I won’t be joining you. At the time of this post the California corn season has started. So far it is tasting pretty good, but it will be even better in a few weeks when local Brentwood corn starts up. I love this time of year! Enjoy your esquites and have a great summer!
- 8 ears of corn
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5-6 tablespoons Mayonnaise
- 5 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled
- 4 green onions, chopped
- ½ teaspoon Ancho powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ limes, juiced (3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons jalapeño, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- Avocado (optional, but highly recommended)
- Remove all the husk and silk from the corn and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Grill over a medium high heat, until the corn is lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting the corn from each ear with a sharp knife. Brown the chopped red onion in the melted butter until browned, adding the chopped garlic at the last few minutes to brown slightly also. Add the corn and the onion to a large bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, adjust seasoning to taste and serve. (Note-if not serving immediately, do not add the avocado until you are ready to eat)