Mexican Street Corn
I made this dish for friends this week and realized it was time to repost the recipe now that it's grilling season!! If you've never had the pleasure of ordering corn on the cob from a street vendor in Mexico (or Los Angeles), not to fear! You don't have to buy a plane ticket to partake in this deliciousness. This tasty side is easy enough to make and adapt to your own grill.
For those of you that HAVE had this treat, I realize that the traditional approach is to eat the corn right off of the cob, but I switch it around so that I can serve it up as a side dish or use it on a salad. Adapt however you like and let me know what improvements you make.
Here's what we're looking at in terms of ingredients: fresh corn ears, jicama [pronounced (HEE-kah-mah)], cilantro, feta cheese, limes, olive oil, salt & pepper.
First, I prep the ingredients for the salad by peeling and dicing about half of a jicama. If you've never shopped for, prepared, or eaten jicama, don't let its ugly appearance throw you off. It's a simple, relatively bland root vegetable that adds texture to a dish and easily blends with the spices you use. You can find it in almost any grocery store hanging out in the NON-refrigerated section of the vegetable aisle. My local store keeps it near the tomatillos (another Mexican food staple) and garlic. Most of the time, there's a label on it so that people don't confuse it with rutabagas (eeeww).
One quick tip. Use your knife to peel the jicama in the same way I demonstrated peeling fruit here. That makes the process much easier!
Then I chop up about a third of a bunch of cilantro. I wish that I had a speedy way of doing this, but there's only so fast you can go with this herb. I put the jicama and cilantro into a bowl and set aside.
Next up: prepping, grilling, and hulling the corn. After you clean the corn cobs, take the corn and brush a little olive oil on the kernels and sprinkle with Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper. (I use Trader Joe's lemon peppercorns to add a little extra flavor, but regular pepper works just fine.)
Next, place the cobs on a hot grill and turn them slowly as the kernels cook and brown. Feel free to experiment on how you like your corn, but I usually err on the side of over-browning; partly because I lose track of time and partly because I like that char-grilled flavor!
Guard your food and make sure that any nearby puppies (who, in our case, is now 10 months old and the size of a real DOG) doesn't get to the dish. Wow - that was a close one!!!
Cut the kernels from the cob and put into the bowl with the jicama and cilantro. Take a break for a cup of tea (optional).
Juice one or two limes (taste as you go) and toss in feta cheese. The feta cheese is also a departure from the standard Mexican food staples. Most Mexican cheeses, such as queso fresco, are very mild, but I like the little extra flavor in my version so feta gets the nod. Feel free to play with your favorite cheese - so long as it crumbles easily!
Finally, taste your creation and adjust the seasonings until you LOVE it!
I serve this as a side dish with chicken kabobs, fajitas, or tacos. I also toss it on top of a bunch of mixed greens for an instant salad.
Let me know how your version turns out!!