There's nothing I love more than eating Mexican Corn Salad in the street, in Mexico. Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad), is one of this unassuming dishes that really takes you by surprise. It's corn! How delicious could it po
I'm a fan of its close cousin, 'Elotes' - corn on the cob, slathered with all manner of tasty treats, like butter, chilli, mayonnaise and Mexican cotija cheese, but as I'm not the most careful of eaters I invariable end up looking like a baby at a high chair when I tackle those, So esquites is the perfect choice for me.
Esquites is an altogether more civilised affair. The same flavours as elotes but served, usually in a small cup topped with cheese, lime, cilantro and all that magical stuff. It only requires the dexterity of holding the cup and a spoon, so it's a much safer option.
Is Mexican Corn Salad healthy?
It can be! Generally speaking, it's more healthy than eating a big old burrito or taco, but things can get out of hand if you're piling on the sour cream and mayo, so beware of fooling yourself into thinking that it's a health food. You can of course make your Mexican Corn Salad, no mayo style which will help. But, if you're looking for a healthy Mexican Corn Salad Recipe, then my recipe is a great option - I use the low or no fat versions of mayonnaise and sour cream. The texture and flavour is there - the calories are not. Perfect.
Making this Corn Salad is easy, all the technique required is getting the corn off the cob. You CAN use canned corn too, just be sure to drain it well. That said, for the best and most authentic Mexican Corn Salad, you really should use fresh corn. It's a whole other ball game! To get the corn off the cob, just place the whole cob in a large bowl and using a large knife, carefully cut downwards, away from yourself. Keep fingers out of the way, and all the corn will fall into the bowl. It's very simple!
Then it's a case of sautéing the corn with a little onion - a great tip to getting more flavour out of the corn is to flatten it out in the pan as it cooks and leaving if for a couple of minutes to char a little - the sugars in the corn caramelise and the sweetness levels intensify - it really brings out the best of the corn. The more you caramelise, the tastier it gets - just be careful not to burn it!
What flavours make up Mexican Corn Salad?
In Mexico, there are variations on flavour, some with lots of chilli sauce, some with none. Some with beans, nopales (cactus), pork, chorizo and chicken - each vendor has their own unique offering. My version features the traditional ingredients - there's not a lot to it. It's a very easy Mexican corn salad recipe to follow. We have Mayonnaise, sour cream which brings creaminess, cilantro for that unmistakable Mexican flavour and a little chipotle hot sauce for depth of flavour. The whole thing is finished off with a spritz of fresh lime and a generous dusting of Cotija cheese - Mexico's mild answer to Parmesan! The results are a sweet, creamy, zingy and addictive salad that you won't be able to stop eating. I adore the stuff!
Substitutes and Suggestions
As I mentioned earlier, to make it a healthier corn salad, just use low calorie versions of sour cream and mayo. As for substituting or adding new flavours, the world is your oyster. I've made this salad with the addition of fresh tomato, avocado, radishes and chopped bell peppers. I've also made a version with finely sliced corn tortillas that I deep fried til crunchy - I'll arrange on top to give a bit (a lot) of crunch to the soft, corn. It's a triumph!
You can also dispense with the frying part of this recipe, by grilling your corn whole on the BBQ - To make this Grilled Corn Salad just leave the corn in their husks (or wrap in foil if they don't have husks) and grill for 20 minutes - the corn should have a little char when it's done, then just cool and remove the corn from the cob in the same way as above.
I'll usually make my Mexican Corn Salad as a side dish to other dishes. Normally some grilled Carne Asada or Pork on the BBQ, or a grilled fish. I'll serve with some Mexican rice, a guacamole and salsas and a whole pile of warmed corn tortillas.
More Mexican recipes
While you're in Mexico (in your kitchen), you might want to give one of my Posole recipes a try - have you tried Posole Rojo? Or the fresh, zingy Posole Verde? They're Mexico's most wonderful soups! Or why not a deep fried treat? Try my pork flautas or my Baja Fish Tacos from Ensenada - crunchy greatness!
How to make Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)
- Heat frying pan with olive oil until hot. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft.
- Add the corn and cook for a further 5-6 minutes, leave the corn still in the pan to char slightly. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro, mayonnaise, sour cream, chipotle hot sauce, salt & pepper and juice from half the lime.
- Decant into serving bowl or plate and sprinkle with cotija cheese. Add a few pinches of chilli powder and then finally squeeze over the remaining half of lime just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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