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Esquites is the side dish your spring and summer menus need (and we have a great recipe for it)

All of the incredible flavor of Mexican street corn, none of the mess

Esquites
Serious Eats/Facebook

If you’ve ever had proper Mexican street corn, you know that it isn’t an exaggeration to say that there’s really just nothing better in existence. There’s a reason that adorable little kid went viral for singing corn’s praises — everyone can relate. Because, of course, we can. A sweet and golden, freshly harvested piece of early summer corn, slathered in sour cream, cheese, summertime citrus, and delicious spices? No. There’s nothing better, and we will die on that hill.

Unfortunately, there’s one drawback to this summertime snack. It’s messy. Granted, that’s also one of the beautiful things about it, but there are certain occasions when that wet, drippy, creamy goodness isn’t always welcome. Thankfully, there’s an answer to this little problem. Esquites.

Esquites has all the flavor of Mexican street corn, but rather than being served on a stick, it can be served neatly in a bowl, ready to be topped on chips, in a taco, or let’s be real — nothing but a spoon.

How to customize your own

The other beautiful thing about esquites is that the dish is easy to customize for any number of dietary preferences or restrictions. The esquites recipe below, for example, calls for bacon which you could easily leave out. The mayonnaise can simply be swapped for a vegan version if that’s your preference. Not a fan of the heat? Go easy on the chilis. So long as the corn has that traditionally perfect char, and it’s held together with a creamy, delicious, savory base, you’ve got yourself a winning dish that will disappear in seconds.

Mexican street corn salad (esquites) recipe

(From Serious Eats)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 ounces of feta or Cotija cheese, finely crumbled
  • 1/2 cup of finely sliced scallions, green parts only
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
  • tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • Chile powder or hot chile flakes (to taste)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes.
  3. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.
  4. Continue tossing and charring until the corn is well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, and chile powder and toss to combine.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chile powder to taste. Serve immediately.

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