This side dish marries two Mexican classics – street corn and Caesar salad dressing.
Much as I love corn on the cob, a delicate veneer on my front tooth does not. So when it comes to this summertime treasure, I’ll always prefer it off the cob. And the Mexican specialty esquites is an exquisite way to enjoy it.
This recipe came about when I developed another, more involved recipe for a client. The combo of toasted corn and Caesar dressing (another Mexican specialty, born in Tijuana) was a slam dunk winner.
It’s fab with just about anything on the menu, delicious warm or at room temperature.
Esquites vs. Elotes
Both are popular Mexican street food snacks. Elotes are grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, a generous dusting of cotija cheese, chili powder and a squeeze of lime. Esquites are corn served off the cob with similar dressings.
- Fresh corn is absolutely the best way to go for this side dish. But frozen corn will do in a pinch, if you must. You’ll need about 4½ cups for this recipe.
- You can make the dressing a day or two ahead and refrigerate it.
- Cotija, Mexico’s delightfully salty cheese, is available in many supermarkets. For this recipe, you want añejo (aged) cotija. It’s similar to Parmesan, which is a good substitute.
Esquites with Lime Caesar Dressing
6 ears corn, shucked
1 japaleño chile
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons cotija cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 lime, juiced
Dash hot sauce
Trim corn kernels from the cobs, discarding the cobs. Seed and finely chop the jalapeño.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the corn, jalapeño and a pinch of salt. Saute 5-8 minutes or until corn is charred in spots. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, cotija, cilantro, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, mustard, garlic, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the corn, and toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with cilantro.
Serves 4-6 (makes about 4 cups)