I’m so excited to be sharing with you today one of my all-time favourite snacks, esquites!
(If you don’t see the video right below this text, view it on our YouTube channel by clicking here.)
In Mexico, esquites, are among the most popular snacks and you can buy them from the street vendors in any town of the republic. Here we call it elote en vaso, which literally translates to corn in a cup, perhaps some of you have heard this name in English.
Esquites is a very simple dish that is super easy to prepare. It’s at its tastiest when made with fresh ears of corn, but you could also use frozen or canned corn when fresh is not in season. The rest of the ingredients are pretty straightforward with the only exception being the fresh epazote herb, but you can either use dried or substitute it with some fresh cilantro.
So it’s really a matter of chopping, sautéing, simmering, scooping into a cup, and finishing each cup with some delectable toppings. The results are beyond delicious and full of tender savoury and sweet corn kernels, touches of chile bits, creamy and tartness of mayonnaise, more creaminess from crumbly cheese, sweet and tart lime, and another touch of heat from chile powder. Once you take a bite you’ll see why this snack is so beloved in Mexico and slowly become popular with people all over the world.
You really want to make them as soon as possible.
- 4 ears of corn
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- ¼ of small white onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 green Serrano peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig of epazote (or sub with 1 teaspoon dried epazote)
- 2 cups or 470ml vegetable broth (I used half a vegetable bouillon cube with water)
- pinch of fine sea salt
- mayonnaise, to taste
- cotija cheese (sub with queso fresco or in a pinch parmesan cheese may be used)
- fresh lime juice
- ground red chili pepper (cayenne works great)
- Do watch the video for this recipe to have guided visual instructions. Shuck the corn to remove all of the husks and the silk. Rinse to remove any extra silks, but if a few are left it won't hurt anything. Use a tomato slicer knife or a sharp or serrated knife to cut off the kernels from the ears of corn. You can hold the ear of corn inside of a bowl and rest it on the bottom, then slice off the kernels -- carefully so you don't cut yourself. Continue until all ears of corn have been done.
- Melt the butter in a hot pot, then add the onion and garlic and sprinkle a small pinch of the salt over them, saute until soft. Next add the serrano and cook for a couple of minutes before adding all of the corn kernels. Saute until the kernels begin feeling just a bit crispy. Now add the epazote, the broth and give the ingredients a good stir. This is completely optional, but I like to add a couple of the leftover corn cobs that have had their kernels sliced off, to the pot to give the broth extra flavour. Next cover the pot and bring to a boil, once boiled uncover and continue simmering until the liquid has halved and the kernels are nice and tender. Taste and adjust salt if necessary -- but remember you'll be adding cheese too which is a bit salty.
- Once the esquites are cooked you can allow to cool slightly then serve in small cups. This recipe makes enough for four small servings. Remove the corn cobs, if used, ad the sprig of epazote. Ladle some corn and as much broth as desired (it tastes really good, so do add it) into each cup. Top with some mayo, cheese, lime juice and ground chile pepper -- the amounts are to taste and not everyone likes everything, customize it to your taste.
**Fresh epazote may be purchased a your local Mexican food market or you can buy dried online.
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