Mexican street corn salad, also known as esquites, was one of my favorite bites while traveling throughout Mexico.
The traditional version of this dish is made with steamed corn off the cob, mayo, lime juice, hot sauce, chile powder, and salty cheese, typically served street-side in a styrofoam cup. Here, I’ve kept the flavors similar, but I grilled the corn to add a hint of smoke and char. I also cut back on the mayo big time. Esquites in Mexico are heavily sauced with mayo, but I’ve stirred in just enough in this recipe to give the salad some moisture. Chopped scallion, cilantro and jalapeño are added for freshness and red flecks of pequin chile provide hits of smoky heat. This salad is 100% addicting, especially when paired with an ice cold beer.
You could serve this Mexican Grilled Corn Salad at any back yard barbecue this summer. Mexican theme not required! If you’ve got friends or family that are heat-adverse, I’d recommend serving the chile flakes on the side, and let guests add to taste. Continue reading for the corn salad recipe.
Here’s a quick tip on how to easily cut corn off the cob. Start with a angle food cake pan (preferably with a removable bottom). Place the stem end of the cooked corn in the middle hole of the pan, so the corn is standing upright in the center. Using a sharp knife, cut corn from top to bottom. As you are cutting the corn, the kernels will fall down into the well of the cake pan. Once you are done cutting the corn, simple discard the cob, and lift the kernels from the pan. This method makes it easy to contain the kernels as they fall from the cob!
- 4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
- 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (learn how to make your own here!)
- 2 ounces cotija cheese, plus more for sprinkling (feta would work as well)
- 1/2 cup finely sliced scallion greens
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt
- Crushed dried pequin chiles, for sprinkling (or red chile flakes or chile powder)
- Cilantro leaves, for sprinkling
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill over high heat. Cook corn, turning every 5 minutes, until tender and charred in spots (15 - 20 minutes). Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn off the cob into a large bowl (see tip above).
- To the bowl with the corn, add mayo, cotija, scallion greens, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic and lime juice, stirring to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt and additional lime juice. Finish with a sprinkling of crushed chiles and cilantro leaves.
Here are some other grilling recipes on Kitchen Konfidence: