Mexican Street Corn Salad is a must-try before the summer’s out. It’s patterned after the popular Mexican street food ‘elote’, which is basically seasoned corn on the cob. The corn is boiled or grilled, then slathered in a creamy sauce, and showered with cheese, chili powder, fresh lime juice, and cilantro — the flavors are are striking and unusual. This salad version takes it inside to the table, but doesn’t lose any of the panache of the original. I love the contrast of the warm roasted corn with the cool arugula, so I like to serve it immediately after stripping the roasted kernels from the cobs.
To get a truly authentic flavor you’ll need a couple of Mexican products for this recipe. One is crema, which is a very lightly cultured, pourable cream. If you can’t fine it, you can thin down regular sour cream or creme fraiche with water. Many large supermarkets carry it, so be sure to ask. The other thing you’ll need is cotija cheese…it comes in a block, and it’s salty, dry and easily crumbled. If your store has an Hispanic section, you will find it there, otherwise, you can, in a pinch, substitute feta.
The cilantro and lime are a potent flavor combination, and they really make this dish, if you ask me. The roasted corn and the peppery arugula back them up beautifully. It’s definitely a fiesta in a salad bowl!
- 4 handfuls fresh baby arugula (one per serving)
- 4 ears corn on the cobs
- 1/2 cup Mexican Crema (substitute thinned down sour cream or creme fraiche)
- several fresh limes
- 4 oz cotija cheese
- handful of fresh cilantro
- chile powder or smoked paprika for garnish
- Roast the ears of corn over a hot grill, or on the stove top. You can remove the husks, or keep them on, it doesn't matter. Roast them over high heat for about 15 minutes or so, turning every once in a while, until they start to steam and char. Put them aside to cool, just enough to handle.
- Mix the Mexican cream with the juice of 2 limes. Stir well and taste. If you like, you can add more lime juice for more of a citrus kick. If the mixture is too thick to drizzle, add a touch of water.
- When the corn is cool enough to handle, remove the husks, if necessary, and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife.
- Arrange the arugula in a wide shallow salad bowl. Scatter the warm corn over the top of greens, then crumble the cheese over the corn. Scatter the cilantro over all, and then drizzle with the crema dressing. Garnish with a sprinkle of chile powder, and serve with wedges of lime.
- Enjoy immediately because the warm corn will eventually wilt the arugula. If you want to make this slightly more ahead of time, chill the corn before adding it to the salad.