Monday 9 February 2009

esquite: mexican corn snack

Elote is a typical Mexican dish, served by street vendors around the country. It consists of grilled corn served with accompaniments like lime, salt, chilli, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese and even shredded chicken.

I prefer esquite, which is identical to elote only the corn kernels are sliced from the cob into a glass and the accompaniments piled on top so you can eat it more easily with a spoon.

Now I have never been to Mexico, so my experiences of elote and esquite come purely from my dinners at the home of Mexican amigos Vicky & Roberto.

We're hoping to make it to Mexico in January 2010, as part of a huge around-the-world journey, but since it's a very ambitious holiday plan it might not happen. Fingers crossed.

In anticipation, I made Mexican food a focus cuisine for my 2009 Food Challenges and have made quite a few things already. This being another one!

We usually eat our elote and esquite sprinkled with tajin, but since this Mexican seasoning of powdered chilli, salt and dehydrated lime juice isn’t readily available all over the world I’ve provided an alternative recipe.


Vicky & Roberto's recipe. Serves 2.


2 corn on the cob
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 lime, cut into quarters
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Olive oil


1. Heat your BBQ.
2. Brush the corn with the olive oil then grill until cooked through.
3. Slice the kernels from the cobs, into a bowl, and squeeze out corn milk from the cob.
4. Toss the corn with salt and cayenne then divide between bowls.
5. Allow people to top their corn with mayonnaise and cheese to their taste, then provide lime quarters for squeezing.

¼ teaspoon tajin instead of cayenne pepper.

Corn, also known as maize, is one of the many wonderful and delicious food sources to come from the Americas.

Corn originated in Mesoamerica then spread across the American continent. Once the Europeans began to colonise the Americas, corn spread all over the world.

The word maize comes from the indigenous Taino through Spanish while the word corn used to be applied to any kind of cereal.

It’s believed that corn was first domesticated in Mexico more than 9,000 years ago. By 1500BCE it started to spread all over the Americas and became the staple food for pre-Columbian North American, Mesoamerican, South American, and Caribbean cultures.

When corn cultivation spread to the US Southwest (1st millennium CE) and US Northeast and south-eastern Canada (2nd millennium CE) it created new landscapes as Native Americans cleared forest and grassland for their crops.

Corn is the most widely grown crop in the Americas and the US produced 332 million tonnes annually on its own. It’s therefore not surprising that five of the world’s top ten corn producers are located in the Americas. The top producers are, in order, the US, China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India, France, Indonesia, Canada and Italy.

Corn contains and an indigestible protein which can cause an allergic reaction leading to rashes, swelling, itching, diarrhoea, vomiting, asthma and even anaphylactic shock. What’s even stranger is that people with corn allergies almost always have peach allergies too.

Check out the Weekend Herb Blogging round-up over at Cheryl's Gluten Free Goodness.




  1. Looks like a winner! thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe. It was one of my favorite foods I had while I was in Oaxaca. There is one thing missing. In the preparations of esquite I have consumed, the corn is boiled with an herb called epazote ( I don't know if it's possible to find dried epazote in your area, but if you can, I'd highly recommend using it because it makes a huge difference. And for those of your readers out there who are able to find queso fresco, I recommend using that, as it is the traditional cheese used for this dish.

  3. Oh thank you. We went to a Mexican baseball game last night while here in Mazatlan Mx. I couldn't figure out what that white stuff in the Styrofoam cup was. It was sold by a vendor, and lime juice and chile powder was added. Now, thanks to you, I know

  4. You missed someone.

  5. I'm mexican, born and raised. I can tell you it't not parmesan cheese nor paprika we use in esquites. The chile is called Piquin, and it's used on fruit, cucumbers, jicama and some other snacks as well. The cheese used can be called "queso de canasta" or "queso sopero", is very dry and has a very specific flavor that parmesan can't equal, trust me, since I got married and moved to the US I tried using parmesan and paprika as substitutes... it was AWFUL :( I'm still looking for a place to buy the real thing and have a decent esquite.


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