Next weekend, I am co-hosting a bridal shower for our niece at the home of one of my sister in law’s besties, Susan. Susan is an incredible cook and caterer and I am overjoyed to work with her on this fun event! Since the shower falls on Cinco de Mayo, we thought we’d incorporate a few relevant elements into our menu. One of the dishes we plan to serve is a Mexican Street Corn Salad. If you haven’t had Elote, which is what this salad is based on, here is a picture of some we enjoyed at Amuleto Mexican Table in Waltham two years ago (see link to review at bottom of blog post)…
Charred corn is slathered with Mexican crema or mayo and rolled in cotija cheese and some chiles. Lime wedges are served alongside. It’s completely delicious and worth the splurge, but hard to eat delicately. Turn those ingredients into a salad however, and it’s perfect for a buffet luncheon like the one we plan to serve.
We are splitting up the cooking and this salad is one of the things on my list. Since I didn’t have a tried and true recipe for Mexican Street Corn Salad and didn’t want to wait until the last minute to figure one out, I thought I would try to do some research and recipe testing this week.
After looking at quite a few recipes online, comparing the various methods for preparing the corn and analyzing the use of different ingredients and spices, I settled on a recipe from Food 52 via foxesloveslemons.com. Corn, a can of green chiles, red onion and cilantro are mixed with a spicy dressing and cotija cheese. Yes, please. I liked the recipe, but wanted to test a few things and make one substitution of a fresh jalapeno for the canned chiles.
Beyond that, here’s what I was thinking. First, the recipe called for roasting the corn kernels in the oven to get that charred texture. I was curious about how grilling the corn might affect the dish so I tried that too. I also wanted to tweak the dressing ingredients which consisted of mayo, sour cream, lime juice, fresh garlic and some seasonings. I decided to swap out the fresh garlic with garlic powder in case the fresh was too sharp, the sour cream with creme fraiche to see if it more closely mimicked a crema and I added some smoked paprika to the other seasonings of chili powder and cayenne for some extra depth of flavor.
To test all these variables, I divided the recipe in two and made one half according to the recipe’s instructions and the other half with my changes.
Both variations were delicious but I discovered a few things. First, the grilling process keeps the kernels more intact and the volume of the finished salad is 1 1/2 times the size of that using the roasted corn. The grilled corn is plump and sweet, and the roasted corn was more deflated if you will. If yield is important to you, grill the corn. Having said all of that, the roasted corn seemed to grab the dressing and remaining ingredients just a little bit better and it became clear that if I wanted to grill the corn, I should add just a touch more cheese to the dish to give it the same corn-cheese ratio. I’ve given instructions in the recipe for both ways. Roasted corn is in the red dish and grilled corn is in the blue dish…
As for the dressing, it’s a toss up between the sour cream and the creme fraiche, but the fresh garlic was very nice and I liked the addition of the smoked paprika.
As is always the case with recipes on this site, please feel free to add or subtract ingredients to suit your palate. Taste as you go and if you want things spicier, then add more chili powder or cayenne. If you want more cheese, go for it!
Since it is Cinco de Mayo next weekend, I thought I would post the recipe so you could incorporate it into your celebrations as well. I think you will really enjoy this salad whether you make it with grilled or roasted corn, leftover corn or even roasted frozen corn from Trader Joe’s (I’ve provided cup measures). It would also make a fantastic appetizer if you served it in little cups with spoons. A caterer did this for a party I attended and it was my favorite dish of the evening!
Why not give Mexican Street Corn Salad a try? And with sweet summer corn, this dish will be even better!
Footnote – this is the week when I have sometimes written a post about the Armenian Genocide which we commemorate on April 24th. This year marked the 103rd anniversary of the Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century. I am here only because some members of my family were able to safely leave their homeland and build a new life here in the United States. To learn more, please read my past posts for 2017 and 2015.
Until next time…