Living in the southwest taught me to really appreciate Mexican food. So many tasty dishes, prepared with fresh ingredients. One of my last weeeknd getaways before moving back to Toronto was to Sedona Arizona, the land of red rock . And home of Elote Cafe, a southwestern restaurant serving up classic Mexican with a twist. No reservations + delicious food = 3.5 hour wait. Luckily the bar was open and they gave away free spicy popcorn.
Elote is a mexican street food where the corn on the cob is slathered in mayo, and seasoned with some variation of lime, chili, cheese. At Elote Cafe, they serve it with cut kernals in a bowl and crispy corn tortillas chips for scooping. The servings were so huge that we barely touched our also gigantic entrees. Elote also sells a cookbook with their signature recipes which we bought and chef Jeff Smedstad kindly signed for us. You can buy in here.
The base of this dip is mayo – a condiment that, generally speaking, grosses me out. The only exception is tartar sauce and my aunt’s chicken salad sandwiches. Weird right? But anyhow, I used a vegan mayo for this so it’s great for those who are vegan, allergic to eggs, or grossed out by regular mayo. The parmesan cheese and chopped coriander are for garnish and completely optional. I’ve served elote both with and without and nobody notices, mainly because they’re too busy dipping their corn chips into the corn dip (dare I say it’s ‘corn porn’).
Nothing beats sweet fresh summer corn but in the cold winter months, canned or frozen corn kernals will do just fine. You can also grill the corn instead of boiling it which is how elote is classically served. I’m BBQ-less so boiling it was my MO for the elote.
What I love about this dish is that you just throw the ingredients in a pan and warm everything up. So easy to prepare ahead and reheat or make in a pinch when guests show up. And it’s a total crowd pleaser. Best served with cold sangrias, margaritas, caipirnhas, and Coronas.
Recipe for Elote (serves 4 as appetizer) – Adapted from Elote Cafe Cookbook
- 4 ears of corn, or 2 cups frozen or canned corn kernals
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo
- 1 Tbsp Mexican style hot sauce (Cholula, Tapatio, Tobasco)
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegan/vegetarian version)
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (optional, omit for vegan version)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional, for garnish)
- ground chili, to taste
- crispy corn tortillas for dipping
1. Boil ears of corn for about 5 minutes or until tender. Holding the ear of corn vertically over a bowl or cutting board, run a knife down the sides, cutting off the kernals. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat mayo, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, sugar, pepper, and stock on medium heat. When mixture starts to boil, add corn and heat through. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with chili powder. Add coriander and parmesan if using. Serve with crispy tortilla chips.