Mexican Street-Style Corn Salad / Dip

Happy Cinco de Mayo! So perfect that this lovely day for margarita patio-drinking is on a Monday, isn’t it? Since I’m assuming that all Sparkle Kitchen readers are responsible adults with jobs, this year I’m sharing a side dish recipe instead of a more tequila-inspired one. 

This is a take on the Mexican street food known as elote or esquites. Elote is corn on the cob that is grilled and rolled in spices, cotija cheese, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Esquites is a dish served with the corn cut off of the cob and any spices or additions served in a cup with a spoon. My dish is more of an esquites-style take on the traditional street fare. I wanted to translate the delicious-sounding flavors into a dip or side salad. 

I served this dish a couple of ways: first, in an avocado half. This would make a chic little appetizer plate. Next time I make this, I’m going to grill each avocado half before topping with the corn filling. 

Second, I served it as a dip with scoop-shaped multi-grain tortilla chips. Husband went wild for this method and that’s not just the Mexican beer speaking, I’m sure. He said that the dip has the perfect amount of heat. That said, feel free to adjust the proportions of ingredients like jalapeno, cayenne, and hot sauce to your liking. 

I would also do this again as a topping for grilled salmon. In fact, I think we can say that I have next year’s Cinco de Mayo cookout recipe figured out. 

Mexican Corn Salad / Dip
Serves 4 as a side dish / salsa and 2-3 as a dip

You will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn kernels 
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced purple onions
  • 3 tbsp. light mayo
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cojita cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Tapatio or other Mexican-style hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado (you will need 2 avocados if you are serving the dish inside an avocado half). 
  • Heat olive oil and garlic to medium-high heat. Wait for the oil to become hot (a minute or two), then stir in corn, 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper. 
  • Let the corn cook for about two minutes, then stir. The goal is to have slightly browned corn kernels. Cook for 6 minutes or so total, then turn off heat. 
  • In a large bowl, stir together mayo, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, onions, cheese, and remaining spices. 
  • Add corn mixture once it has cooled slightly. Stir well. 
  • If serving in an avocado, you’re done! Just mound 1/4 of the mixture inside each of your 4 avocado halves. Garnish with extra cilantro. 
  • If serving as a dip/topping, chop up 1 avocado and stir gently into the large bowl. 
  • Serve chilled or room temperature. 

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