The salad that surprises everyone and keeps them coming back for more

Esquites is the salad version of elotes, the famous Mexican corn street food

Mexican corn salad (Esquites).

Mexican corn salad (Esquites).

 

When I want to eat convivial fun food, I always turn to Mexico. It is colourful, full of flavour and very sociable. There are so many delicious Mexican classics to choose from. I love passing around bowls of different salsas, guacamole and salads. When feeding a larger group, I think it’s the ideal cuisine to cook, there’s something there for everyone including kids.

My children have their own preferences; one loves cheese but not rice, another is the opposite, and loves refried beans too. Mexican food seems to bridge all of those discrepancies. We all sit happily passing bowls and filling warm tortillas, and no one leaves the table hungry. 

Elotes is the famous Mexican street food of corn brushed with creamy mayonnaise, cheese and lime. It is truly delicious. Esquites is the salad version, sold from carts on the roadside in cups to be enjoyed right away. It is the perfect delicious snack with salty, creamy and citrus flavours all right there in a cup.

Cotija cheese is like a less salty Mexican feta. Its creaminess is so good with the lime juice, but you can use normal feta here You can cook the whole corn on the cob on a barbecue, or shave off the kernels from each cob and cook them in a frying pan. A little butter adds caramel flavours and ensures the corn chars nicely.

I use smoked sweet paprika for so many recipes, it’s one of my favourite spices and so versatile. A little ground cumin provides a subtle background warmth. Crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos, a type of cheese-dusted chilli-flavoured corn snack, can be crumbled over the top, or you can serve the salad on top of chilli tortilla chips for crunch and even more flavour. It’s all about layering textures and pops of flavour.

Usually mayonnaise is included in the dressing but I’ve just stuck to lime juice and a little olive oil. Feel free to omit the olive oil and add a tablespoon of mayonnaise instead for a more authentic version. 

I’ve been making this corn salad quite often this summer, especially when we have family get-togethers. It seems to be the salad that surprises everyone and they keep coming back for more. It’s the sweet charred corn with the salty cheese that makes such a great combination. It’s also a great snack for my kids. They love eating it outside from little cups with a spoon, it’s nutritious, fast food that’s perfect for summer.

Recipe: Mexican corn salad (Esquites)

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