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Creamy, spicy and tangy, esquites combine corn with bold pops of flavor.
Milk Street Bowtie Mexican-Style Corn with Chili and Lime (Esquites)

Mexican-Style Corn with Chili and Lime (Esquites)

3 reviews
Appears in July-August 2022

30 minutes

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Mexican-Style Corn with Chili and Lime (Esquites)

Free

To make esquites, a popular type of Mexican street food, corn is typically roasted or grilled, then the kernels are simmered with an herb called epazote before being finished with crema (Mexican sour cream), mayonnaise, lime, chili and cotija cheese. The slightly brothy mix is served in cups and eaten with a spoon. Our version of esquites is based on the recipe Jorge Fritz and Beto Estúa taught us at Casa Jacaranda cooking school in Mexico City. Epazote has a unique flavor and aroma that are difficult to mimic. The herb is not widely available in U.S. supermarkets; Fritz and Estúa suggested a combination of fresh parsley and basil, so that’s what we call for in our recipe. Plump, tender kernels cut from ears of fresh corn are the first choice for making esquites, but in non-summer months, an equal amount of frozen corn kernels that have been thawed and patted dry will work; they’ll just take a little longer to brown.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t stir the corn for the first minute it’s in the skillet. Undisturbed cooking allows the kernels to begin to develop flavorful browning and caramelization.

30 minutes

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 5 ears corn) or frozen corn, thawed and patted dry
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1 serrano chili, stemmed and halved lengthwise, one half finely chopped, reserved separately
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ounce cotija cheese, finely grated (½ cup)
Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 4

    cups fresh corn kernels (from about 5 ears corn) or frozen corn, thawed and patted dry

  • 2

    tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • 2

    tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil

  • 1

    serrano chili, stemmed and halved lengthwise, one half finely chopped, reserved separately

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ¼

    cup sour cream or Mexican crema

  • 2

    tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve

  • ¼-½

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1

    ounce cotija cheese, finely grated (½ cup)

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In the store
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Reviews
Christina R.
June 27, 2022
Amazing
Recipe turned out great. I could not find Cotija cheese in the supermarket so I substituted a mix of parmesan and feta.
Susan W.
June 22, 2022
Fresh Corn
I made this exactly as written and it WAS absolutely delicious!
David R.
June 8, 2022
epazote
Epazote grows wild all over New York City. I don't know about Boston.
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Mexican-Style Corn with Chili and Lime (Esquites)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

30 minutes

Tip

Don’t stir the corn for the first minute it’s in the skillet. Undisturbed cooking allows the kernels to begin to develop flavorful browning and caramelization.

Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 4

    cups fresh corn kernels (from about 5 ears corn) or frozen corn, thawed and patted dry

  • 2

    tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • 2

    tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil

  • 1

    serrano chili, stemmed and halved lengthwise, one half finely chopped, reserved separately

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ¼

    cup sour cream or Mexican crema

  • 2

    tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve

  • ¼-½

    teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1

    ounce cotija cheese, finely grated (½ cup)

Step 1 of 3

Cook the Kernels

1
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
4
cups fresh corn kernels (from about 5 ears corn) or frozen corn, thawed and patted dry

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the corn in an even layer and cook without stirring for 1 minute, allowing the kernels to start to brown on the bottom. Cook, stirring occasionally, until more of the kernels are charred, 4 to 5 minutes.

Step 2 of 3

Make the Parsley-Basil Mixture

2
tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
cups water
½
cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2
tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1
serrano chili, stemmed and halved lengthwise, one half finely chopped, reserved separately
½
teaspoon salt

Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in 1½ cups water, the parsley, basil, the intact half of the serrano and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup, 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 3 of 3

Finish and Serve

¼
cup sour cream or Mexican crema
2
tablespoons mayonnaise
2
tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
¼-½
teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1
ounce cotija cheese, finely grated (½ cup)

Off heat, stir in the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice and cayenne. Remove and discard the chili half, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cotija and chopped serrano. Serve with lime wedges.

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