A couple weeks ago I posted a recipe for one of my fave summer side dishes, Potato Salad with Mustard and Dill. In preparation for Labor Day weekend, here is another side dish recipe I love to make for barbecues: elote. Elote is Mexican corn on the cob. It is a popular Mexican street food, but is also made at home by grilling or boiling corn and topping with a combo of mayo, cotija cheese, lime, spices and hot sauce.
Technically what I'm making here is referred to as esquites, which is essentially elote off the cob and served in a dish like a salad. I like making esquites better because it's less messy and easier to serve at a party. It's a delish alternative to cole slaw or a regular green salad.
Ideally you would grill your corn for this recipe because you get a bit of smoky flavor, but I don't have a grill so I have to boil mine. It all works out in the wash.
Mexican Elote Salad (Esquites)
4 ears of corn, shucked (each ear gives you about 1/2 cup kernels)
1/2 cup mayo (if you prefer less mayo, use 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 sour cream)
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled (you can find this in most supermarkets)
1/2 tsp Mexican seasoning (if you can't find Mexican seasoning just use chili powder and a little paprika)
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
About 3-4 dashes hot sauce
Extra crumbled cotija cheese
Extra Mexican seasoning
Put a large pot of water over high heat (you'll need to add enough water to cover the corn completely). While you wait for the water to come to a boil, measure out the mayo, garlic, seasoning and hot sauce into a large bowl. Zest the lime into the bowl (if you don't have a Microplane grater to zest stuff - get one). Then crumble the cotija cheese with your hands (it will look like feta; measure out about 1/2 cup) then add to the mix. Stir everything together until well blended.
When the water comes to a boil, add the ears of corn. Boil corn for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside to cool.
Put a sheet of tin foil or parchment on your counter or cutting board. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, stand an ear upright in the middle of the sheet and cut the kernels off with a sharp knife (make sure to cut deep enough to get the whole kernel, but not so deep you are getting the white part of the cob). Do this with each ear until you have all your corn on the sheet. Carefully transfer the kernels into your bowl with the mayo mixture and stir well. Taste to make sure you have enough spices etc. then add more of whatever you think is missing. Top with extra cotija cheese, lime zest and seasoning and serve with lime wedges.
Serve as a side with your burgers and dogs or with other traditional Mexican food.