Hello and welcome! Today we have a perfect side dish for yesterday’s Easy Grilled Steak Fajitas; a side dish that you can make ahead because it’s great at room temperature. Which also makes it perfect as a picnic or potluck salad. It’s hard to beat the impressive presentation of Elotes, the Mexican Street Corn dipped in a creamy sauce of mayonnaise, Cotija cheese and lime, flecked with red chili powder. But Esquites takes all the street corn flavors and tosses them in a bowl, with charred corn-off-the-cob. Easier to eat and tote along to your next potluck or picnic! Let’s make Esquites!
You can grill corn on the cob and then cut it off the cob, if you like, but charring the corn kernels in a skillet is so much easier! I am not good at holding the corn vertically and cutting down to get the kernels off; so instead, I lay the cob on the cutting board and cut a flat side. Then work my way around the cob, keeping a flat side on the board for every cut. It works just as well, is less dangerous and less messy.
We are looking for four cups of kernels, so this was about 5 ears of corn, for me. I was going for all yellow corn, but unbeknownst to me at the grocery store, one of them turned out to be white. No problem!
I have everything prepped and ready to go. For the sauce, typically the creamy part of the sauce is all mayonnaise; or a combination of mayo and sour cream. I prefer the mayo flavor to be more in the background, so I am mixing about 2 tablespoons of mayo with one tablespoon each of sour cream and Crema Mexicana – to lighten it all up a bit. Otherwise, we have the green parts-only of a few scallions, chopped cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and I am using Queso Fresco, instead of Cotija.
Charring the Corn
Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and when it’s hot add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil gets shimmery, add the four cups of corn. Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Let this cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes, until the bottom layer begins to develop good browning.
This is a great recipe for your cast iron skillet. Cast iron can handle the high heat and it conducts the heat evenly. The fact that it radiates heat will help you get a nice char on the corn. After the first stir, let the corn continue to cook undisturbed for another few minutes, then stir again. Depending on the heat of the burner and the skillet, after the two stirs, you might have a good even charring. If not, let go another few minutes undisturbed.
This is what we are looking for! Transfer the charred corn to a large mixing bowl. We want to mix the corn with the rest of the ingredients while the corn is still hot.
Add the scallions and garlic to the corn, then add the mayo, crema and sour cream. Then add the lime juice and give the whole thing a good mix.
Now add the chopped cilantro and mix that in. Then add the queso fresco and mix that in. Finally, sprinkle chili powder over the salad, use as much or as little as you prefer. Mix well to incorporate and taste for seasoning. Add more kosher salt, or chili powder if needed.
Transfer the Esquites to a serving dish and serve warm, or at room temperature.
The sweet, charred corn is dressed perfectly in the creamy, tangy Esquites sauce. Pops of green onion flavor, with a little heat from the chili powder carry through. While Cotija would add a bit of sharpness to the salad, the queso fresco is so mild, it lets the sauce and corn shine. The cilantro flavor lingers through each bite and finish.
Definitely make this Esquites! I think you will love the flavors, and it’s so easy! If you’re doing this for a crowd, you may want to double the recipe because it will be everyone’s favorite side! Esquites doesn’t stop there though, as a side dish…stay tuned to the blog later this week to see how this Mexican Street Corn Salad finds its way into a main dish!
Thank you all for tuning in today! Give me a follow on Pinterest to easily see and pin all the Djalali Cooks recipes. Take care and be well everyone, xo Kelly
Esquites - Mexican Street Corn Salad
Esquites takes Mexican street corn flavors and tosses them in a bowl, with charred corn kernels. Easier to eat and tote along to your next potluck!
- 4 cups Fresh Corn, about 5 ears
- 2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
- Kosher Salt and Cracked Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp. Mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. Crema Mexicana
- 1 tbsp. Sour Cream
- 2 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
- 3-4 Scallions, green parts only, sliced
- 3-4 Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/2 Bunch Cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Queso Fresco
- Chili Powder, to taste
Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and when it's hot add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
When the oil gets shimmery, add the four cups of corn.
Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Let this cook undisturbed for about 2-3 minutes, until the bottom layer begins to develop good browning.
Stir and continue to cook undisturbed for another 2-3 minutes. Stir again and continue to cook until the corn is evenly browned with some charring. Maybe 2-3 more minutes.
Transfer charred corn to a large mixing bowl and add scallion greens, garlic, mayo, sour cream and crema. Stir to combine and coat corn in the sauce.
Add cilantro and queso fresco, stirring between each addition.
Add chili powder to taste, stir and serve warm or at room temperature.
Sylvia EspinozaJuly 12, 2021 at 9:37 am
Looks scrumptious and must be scrumptious! Your tip for cutting kernels off the cob sounds great. Mine tend to fly off instead of falling off. Will try Crema Fresca. Don’t think I’ve ever tasted it! Agree Esquites will be a huge hit wherever it’s served. Thank you for new knowledge you’ve imparted today. Will stay tuned for the recipe as a main dish 🙂 Hugs to you, Kelly! ~
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 9:40 am
Thank you, Sylvia! This method for cutting the corn works really well. I am so excited about this salad! I want to make it every week, to have some on hand – it is so good and works so well with so many dishes! Stay tuned for that other recipe, it’s one of my new favorites! Take care and have a great week, xo Kelly
KathyJuly 12, 2021 at 9:45 am
Looks absolutely delicious! I want to make this recipe soon! Thanks!
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 9:49 am
Hi Kathy, it’s a keeper, for sure! Let me know how it goes for you. Have a wonderful week! xo Kelly
TerryJuly 12, 2021 at 10:30 am
This looks really good. I’ll have to give it a try. Great salad to take to a pot luck. I’ll keep you posted gma will like this one ❤️Mom
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 5:25 pm
It’s perfect for a potluck or barbecue party. Let me know how you like it, Mom. xo Kelly
DeannaJuly 12, 2021 at 12:32 pm
This looks delicious! Definitely going to make this with the fajitas you featured over the weekend. The Crema Mexicana looks like a must try too! Thanks for the variety of cuisines/dishes that you present. Have a great week!
DeannaJuly 12, 2021 at 5:28 pm
Also —that is a fabulous blue bowl in the picture!!! Love it!!!
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 5:32 pm
Isn’t it? I found that at the farmer’s market, it’s by a local potter. I love it!
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Hi Deanna, Thanks so much! I think the steak fajitas and the corn salad are a perfect match! Let me know how you like them and thanks so much for tuning in to the blog. xo Kelly
CarrollJuly 12, 2021 at 1:56 pm
That sound wonderful! My method of cutting kernels off the ear is completely unsatisfactory, so I look forward to doing it your way.
Kelly DjalaliJuly 12, 2021 at 5:29 pm
Hi Carroll, It’s one of those prep activities I always dread, like cutting a butternut squash, but this method really works well, and it’s so much less scary! Let me know how it goes for you. xo Kelly
JeanieJuly 19, 2021 at 12:33 pm
I made this salad over the weekend and took it to a taco party. It was a big hit. Easy to do and very tasty. I enjoy your blog. Always something interesting to try. Keep up the good work.
Kelly DjalaliJuly 19, 2021 at 1:06 pm
That’s great, Jeanie! A taco party is the perfect place for Esquites! I am so happy it was a hit. Thank you so much for your support, it means a lot to me! xo Kelly