Mexican cuisine is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, colors, and textures, rooted in a rich culinary history that dates back centuries. One iconic dish that epitomizes the zest and authenticity of Mexican street food is Elote, or Mexican street corn. This beloved snack, often enjoyed at local markets and food stalls throughout Mexico, is a delightful blend of smoky charred corn, creamy mayonnaise, tangy lime juice, and crumbly Cotija cheese. In this culinary journey, we’ll transform this classic street food into a vibrant and easy-to-make Mexican Street Corn Salad with Cotija Cheese.
Elote, meaning “corn cob” in Spanish, has deep roots in Mexican cuisine. Indigenous peoples of Mexico were cultivating corn as early as 9,000 years ago, and the crop played a significant role in their diet. The Aztecs are believed to have prepared corn by roasting it on hot stones, which laid the foundation for the modern Elote. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 16th century, they introduced dairy products, such as cheese, which eventually found their way into the corn dish.
- Prepare the Corn: Start by shucking the corn and removing the silks. Rinse the corn under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Grill the Corn: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush each ear of corn with a light coating of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the corn directly on the grill grates. Grill for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally until the corn is charred and tender. Remove from the grill and allow it to cool slightly.
- Cut the Corn: Once the grilled corn has cooled, carefully cut the kernels from the cob using a sharp knife. Use a gentle sawing motion to prevent the kernels from scattering.
- Prepare the Dressing: In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, minced garlic, lime juice, smoked paprika, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until you have a smooth and creamy dressing.
- Assemble the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine the grilled corn kernels, crumbled Cotija cheese, and chopped cilantro. Pour the dressing over the corn mixture and toss gently to coat all the ingredients evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper if needed.
- Serve and Garnish: Transfer the Mexican Street Corn Salad to a serving platter. Garnish it with extra crumbled Cotija cheese and lime wedges. The creamy, smoky, and tangy flavors will transport your taste buds straight to the streets of Mexico.
Mexican Street Corn Salad with Cotija Cheese is a delightful fusion of tradition and innovation, capturing the essence of street food culture in Mexico. With its bold flavors and refreshing tang, this salad is a perfect side dish for your next barbecue or a vibrant addition to any summer gathering. So, take a culinary voyage south of the border and savor the streets of Mexico with this delicious dish that’s sure to please everyone at your table.