Chewy-edged, deep-fried plantains. Smoky, shopping-cart hot dogs. Esquites, esquites, esquites! Watermelon chaat. Falooda in the backyard. Squeaky fresh artichokes with lemon and mayonnaise. Ripe mangoes with chile and lime.

Intensely perfumed melons and soft, drippy-bottomed figs under slices of prosciutto covered with olive oil. All the berries, washed and dried and piled on softly whipped cream that’s sweetened with a little cane syrup. Green beans and green garlic, and that beautiful window when okra, corn and tomatoes are *all* at their best.

Esquites

Christopher Simpson, The New York Times

Esquites in New York, May 6, 2021. Esquites are the salad form of elotes, charcoal-grilled Mexican corn on the cob that is slathered with a creamy sauce, seasoned with chile powder and lime juice and topped with Cotija, a crumbly, aged Mexican cheese. Props styled by Paige Hicks. Food styled by Simon Andrews.

Esquites are the salad form of elotes, charcoal-grilled Mexican corn on the cob that is slathered with a creamy sauce, seasoned with chile powder and lime juice and topped with Cotija, a crumbly, aged Mexican cheese. This version doesn’t require a grill, and instead chars the corn kernels in a hot skillet until browned and caramelized. Cotija brings salty, milky accents to the salad. Ancho chile powder adds smoky notes, but you can use any type of chile powder you favor. Leftovers transform quickly into a great pasta salad the next day; simply toss with cooked pasta and olive oil.

By: Kay Chun

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6 to 7 ears fresh corn)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 4 ounces Cotija cheese (scant 1 cup)
  • Ancho chile powder (or chipotle or cayenne), for sprinkling

Preparation