Mexican Corn with Crema, Ground Chile and Queso Fresco (Esquites Tostado con Crema e Queso) is a tangy and delicious celebration of corn season. A copy of Nopalito was sent to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links have been used to link to items I am discussing.
This dish is from the first meal I have cooked in my new house. This is relevant because, unlike baked goods, everything needs to happen quickly with photographing dinner, and my photography set-up is still not where I want it. Which means in turn that the pictures are not ideal.
But the food? The food is amazing. This Toasted Mexican Corn with Crema and Queso Fresco and an upcoming taco dish are both from Gonzalo Guzmán’s Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen, the next outstanding 10 Speed Press international cookbook I have to review. This one might be my favorite. Although that is a hard call.
Nopalito is another restaurant far far away on the West Coast (Burma Superstar is other I have discussed lately) where I may or may not ever get to eat. Alas. But the cookbook is an excellent second best option–maybe even first best, because I love knowing I made this food. I actually made two dishes from this cookbook, and loved them both–you will have to buy the book for the awesome mashed shrimp and egg tacos. Separated into Small Plates, Big Plates, Drinks & Desserts and Salsa, every section has multiple dishes that I wish to make, dishes that stand out as not being the same old dishes already covered in other Mexican cookbooks. If you love Mexican food, Nopalito is a keeper for sure.
I have always wanted to try elote, preferably from a street vendor in Mexico, but this is the first time I have seen an elote-inspired recipe for corn off the cob in a Mexican cookbook. So of course I jumped on it instantly. It diverts from the traditional elote preparation by removing the kernels, using crema, or a mild sour cream, in place of mayonnaise, and queso fresco in place of cotija. And I liberally sprinkled it with green onions and cilantro.
Words cannot express how much I loved this Toasted Mexican Corn (and we all loved this dish). I might have stolen the leftovers and devoured them before anyone else could get to them. I could eat it three meals a day if someone wanted to make it for me. And heck, as easy as it is, all corn season I will be making it as often as I can!
Closely adapted from Gonzalo Guzmán; Guzmán calls for serving with pico de gallo, which we made, but honestly none of us felt the corn needed it.
- 3 ears corn, kernels sliced from husk
- 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 t kosher salt
- 1 t ground smoked paprika
- 1 t ground ancho chile powder
- 1 t Guajillo chile powder or Urfa chile powder (use extra of the preceding 2 chile powders if you cannot find one of these; Guajillo is a Mexican chile pepper and Urfa is Middle Eastern)
- cayenne pepper, optional, to taste
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema (whisk 1-2 T cream or half and half into American sour cream for a sub)
- 1/2 cup queso fresco (feta is a good sub, although tangier)
- 1 additional lime, cut into slices for serving
- 1-2 T chopped cilantro
- 1-2 T chopped green onions, green parts only
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the corn kernels and let them toast, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Be aware they could jump a bit. You want them lightly charred in places but not burnt.
Add the salt and lime juice and stir when the kernels are evenly lightly toasted. Taste for more salt or lime juice (remember that diners will also have lime wedges so err on side of caution although I love a lot of lime).
Whisk together the spices.
Place the corn into a serving dish or individual bowls. Dollop the crema over the corn and then sprinkle with queso fresco.
Sprinkle with the spice mixture.
Serve garnished with lime wedges, chopped cilantro and chopped green onions.