A very important player in the street food repertoire. ‘Esquites’, also spelled ‘Ezquites’, are found on every main plaza and street food corner in México.
Esquites are corn kernels, cooked with onion, garlic, chilli, and ‘epazote’ – a typical Mexican herb – until tender. They usually take about 30 minutes for fresh maize and 15 minutes for sweet corn.
In Australia, maize is hard to find given that is not commonly consumed fresh and also because it only grows during the spring-summer season. It is usually planted in September/October and harvested in March. The corn we use at La Tortilleria is cultivated in the north-East of Australia, then harvested, and delivered dry. Therefore, I thought it would be more practical to make this recipe using sweet corn.
The word ‘esquite’ come from the Náhuatl which means:
Ízquitl – to toast on a griddle or comal
There are many ways to prepare and garnish your esquites, and this will also depend on where in México you find yourself at. This is my version which I have also adapted to Australia.
Corn in a cup = Esquites
- Mortar and pestle
- 8 sweet corns fresh and on cob
- 1 small white or yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 arbol dry chillies add/reduce depending on heat level desired
- 200 g butter regular or salted
- ½ l veggie stock or any other stock
- ½ l full-fat Greek yoghurt to make Mexican crema
- 4 limes
- 50 g piquin chillies replace with piquin chilli powder
- 1 tsp epazote fresh or dry
- salt to taste
- 200 g pecorino cheese finely shreeded
- Chop the onion and garlic. With a knife cut the corn kernels off the cobs.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter at medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onion becomes transparent. Then add the corn kernels and cook for another 10 minutes and stirring occasionally until kernels change to a brighter colour. I like my kernels charred, so normally cook them for another 5 minutes.
- To the mixture in the saucepan, add the veggie stock, epazote, and arbol chillies. Put the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix the butter, juice of 2 limes and salt in a bowl until the yoghurt has a runny consistency. This is my version of Mexican Crema!
- In a mortar and pestle, place the piquin chillies and salt and crush until you get a fine spice rub.
- Serve the cooked corn kernels in a cup, add the yoghurt mixture, chillie rub, and pecorino cheese on top. Put a lime wedge in the cup or on the edge to server.
- Buen Provecho!
- You can replace the yoghurt and lime mixture for mayonnaise.
- Add Valentina salsa on top if you want more spiciness
- Add more lime if you want to