Esquites or Mexican corn in cup or vaso elote, whichever name you know this delicious corn snack, you must try this recipe! This is one of Mexico’s top street food snack and you can make it vegetarian or vegan.
Esquites The Corn Snack You Gotta Try
I’m so excited to be sharing with you today one of my all-time favorite snacks, esquites!
In Mexico, esquites, are among the most popular snacks. You can buy them from the street vendors in any town of the Mexican republic.
What are Esquites
Esquites is a very simple dish that is super easy to prepare. Think of esquites as an elote off the cob — still with all the delicious toppings and flavors, just easier to eat.
For esquites, fresh ears of corn are shucked and sautéed or simmered in a light broth with some seasonings and spices.
The recipes tend to differ a bit from each Mexican region. They can be quite simple or a bit more flavorful like my recipe. However ingredients such as corn kernels, water or broth, onion, garlic, fresh chilies, epazote, and salt are among the most common.
When you buy esquites from street vendors they’ll ask you if you want broth or would prefer it dry. Do make sure to ask if the broth is made with just the water, corn and ingredients (vegan) or does it have chicken broth.
What Toppings to Use
The toppings too can range from regions, but more specifically from person to person.
There’s always the debate of crema or mayonnaise. (I prefer mayo because it adds more flavor, in my opinion.)
Queso cotija or fresco may be used. Freshly squeezed lime juice and ground chile powder or hot sauce may be used.
Which toppings and their quantities are entirely up to each individual’s taste.
Elote en Vaso
Among family and friends we call it both esquites and elote en vaso. The later literally translates to corn in a cup, and this is perhaps the English name most of you have heard.
Any name is fine, really.
Esquites Are Not a Salad!
Among many of the non-Mexican food bloggers, for some reason, esquites are incorrectly referred to as “Mexican street corn salad”. This is incorrect. This is not a salad!
You can totally make a corn salad inspired by esquites, but it’s not the same thing so it shouldn’t have the same name. Maybe call it grilled corn salad….
Esquites can either be sautéed with oil or simmered in broth, both with any number of additional ingredients. Then are served with toppings in a small cup or a corn husk. The ingredients are never pre-mixed for you.
I’m trying to understand the misinterpretation, but I don’t get it. Do feel free to explain it to me in the comments, perhaps I’m missing something.
How to Make Mexican Corn in a Cup
Fresh corn kernels are really the best, and if you can get white corn variety the dish will have the most authentic taste. 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 savory 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!
Authentic Esquites Recipe
Amigos I really hope you give my esquites recipe a try. This is one of the more authentic traditionally recipes you’ll find — of course it does have a few special touches that I added myself. But I think you’re going to love it.
The BEST Recipe for Esquites | Mexican Corn in a Cup
- 4 whole ears of corn shucked
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 small white onion roughly chopped
- 2 whole garlic cloves very thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 whole Serrano peppers roughly chopped (seeds removed for milder option)
- 1 whole sprig of epazote or sub with 1 teaspoon dried epazote
- 2 cups vegetable broth I used half a vegetable bouillon cube with water
- pinch sea salt fine texture
- 4 Tablespoon mayonnaise to taste (use vegan or regular)
- 4 Tablespoon cotija cheese use my vegan cotija or sub with queso fresco or in a pinch parmesan cheese may be used
- 2 limes freshly squeezed
- 4 teaspoons ground red chili pepper cayenne works great
- Do watch the video 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.
- Melt the butter in a hot pot, then add the onion and garlic and sprinkle a small pinch of the salt over them, sauté until soft. Next add the serrano and cook for a couple of minutes before adding all of the corn kernels. Sauté 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 flavor.
- 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.
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