Mexican Grilled Corn, Hold the Mayo

Mexican food is undeniably popular in the United States, yet this popularity irks me on occasion, brings a twitch to my eye and makes me wish it was perhaps just a little less popular.

Why?

Because unfortunately it is often the simplest of foods which are the most popular. Street tacos no bigger than two bites. Chilaquiles, a food originally of leftover tortillas and whatever else was on hand. Chips and salsa, something that just barely resembles Mexican food. Even my beloved Sonora (Hermosillo) Dogs, and guacamole – these are foods I love, but Mexican food deserves recognition for it’s more complex foods; things like mixiotes, the wide range of moles and pozoles enjoyed throughout the country, fish soups which would make a bouillabaisse quake in it’s French bowl.

I’m irked by this ‘street food’ popularity, and yet I am just as guilty or fueling that fire.

Again, Why?

Perhaps I wish to remember these foods the way I knew them, rather than the way they are being interpreted today. Strange words for me to say after arguing the uselessness of trying to pin down the authenticity of Mexican cuisine. Even as I take this  nostalgic food trip, I’m pushing myself to share more of the depths of Mexican food than I have in these pages – I couldn’t think of a more pleasant or satisfying challenge I could present myself with.


This version of Mexican grilled corn, or elote loco, is how I would have eaten it while growing up in Hermosillo in the ’80s; though at home corn would have been eaten lightly steamed and seasoned a bit more sparingly, with lime, butter and salt.

This corn was more of a treat, eaten at one of the kiosks found in Hermosillo selling primarily draught root beer along with the grilled corn. Root beer wasn’t common throughout Mexico at the time, yet the city of Hermosillo, and perhaps other northern Mexican cities though I can’t say for sure, had a certain infatuation for root beer. Not the over-sweet syrup-in-a-box root beer sold there now. This was deeply dark keg root beer, served on frosted glass mugs with a thick foam head.

This type of root beer has become such a rarity, just as finding grilled corn served as it was then, covered with cultured cream and queso fresco, rather than the version popular both in Mexico and the U.S. now days, of mayonnaise and cotija. The dish is lighter and less greasy without the slathering of mayonnaise, which is admittedly cheaper than cultured cream, and stable at room temperature for much longer, easy to see why mayonnaise is preferred over cream by street vendors.

corn_elote_grilled

Mexican Grilled Corn

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Fresh corn, shucked, stem left intact
  • Limes, quartered
  • Butter, room temperature
  • Sea salt
  • Cultured cream (preferably Mexican cream or crème fraÎche)
  • Queso fresco, crumbled
  • Hot sauce

The corn is best grilled over a hot charcoal fire until well charred. It’s not ‘get some grill marks’ kind of cooking, it’s get some smoke and color on that corn cooking. But if a grill isn’t handy, nothing wrong with using the broiler with a rack placed very near the heat element.

corn_elote_grilled_2

Rub the corn well with a lime quarter, pressing the juice into the corn. With a pastry brush or knife, cover the corn well with room temperature butter. Season well with salt. Top with cultured cream, followed by queso fresco, and a good amount of hot sauce.

Eat, with a side of root beer or not.

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