Mexican esquitas is basically the most delicious corn salad you can get and I’m sad I only discovered this recently. I could have been enjoying this deliciousness for so many years. It’s the cousin of the Elote – a popular Mexican street food snack of grilled corn on the cob with spices, cheese, mayo and lime. Esquites is kind of the same except in a much more user-friendly format that can be eaten with a fork or scooped onto chips. Make this with haste because I can promise you everyone is going to love it and love you for it.
You can use fresh or frozen corn just make sure it’s thawed and drained. You will need 4 cups. I’ve used Parmesan cheese because in South Africa Mexican cuisine is very primitive we can’t get cotija cheese, which is what this dish would classically be made with. Parmesan is the cheese El Burro(my favourite Cape Town Mexican restaurant) uses to make theirs, and it’s where I first tasted and fell in love with the dish. You could also use feta, but I’m not the biggest fan of feta. I find it very salty and one dimensional in flavour.
This is a fantastic recipe to double or quadruple up (recommended if feeding a crowd) and can easily be made in advance and served cold or warmed up. You can also play around with the heat and flavour levels adding more or less of any of the ingredients to suit your taste. This version is quite zingy from the lime juice and I’ve only added one tablespoon of mayo, but add more if you want it saucier.
I ate it with pita chips, which are probably my favourite crunchy snack. Maybe a little healthier than a corn chip but I’m not too sure. You simply split pitas in half horizontally and cut into triangles. Brush both sides with seasoned olive oil – I add mixed herbs, oregano, garlic, salt & pepper, and brush both sides. Lay them flat on a baking tray and roast in a 180C / 350F for around 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides (turn around half way through and keep checking as they can go from golden to burnt very quickly).
Recipe – makes enough for 1 (only joking)
- 4 cups of corn kernels (cut off a cob or frozen thawed)
- 2 Tbsp oil for frying
- 2 cloves garlic – crushed
- 4 – 6 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan (or cotija or Parmesan cheese)
- Juice from 2 limes
- 1 Jalapeno finely minced or chopped (or other chilli of your choice)
- 2 Tbs finely chopped cilantro, coriander
- a pinch or 2 of dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 – 2 Tbs mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a VERY high heat and cook the corn (if your pan is small do this in batches) for about 6 – 10 minutes until its starts to char and pop around the pan. It really does get quite vigorous with kernels popping out the pan. At this point add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Take it off the heat.
Add all the other ingredients – adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature or re heat later when you serve.
Cinco de Mayo is coming up soon (like next week) so you don’t want to be doing any kind of Mexican feast without esquites.
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