Living in LA you see men and women in push carts or stands with coolers. Shout out to the Corn Man whose line is usually long. Elotes is corn on the cob while esquites is corn served in a cup or bowl. Since elotes basically has corn, mayonnaise, butter (or margarine, I hear), cheese, and spice(s), I wondered what an Asian interpretation would be.
Corn is corn. Lets start there. It’s summer and corn is cheap and abundant. I decide to use the sweeter white corn mostly because it was on sale.
For the mayo, I chose the Japanese Kewpie mayo because of the sweetness and velvety texture it brings to the party. To save 50 cents I bought the Korean version of Kewpie. It tastes the same but doesn’t have the flip up top. I guess they pass the savings onto the customers.
Butter is butter. I kept that.
I forgone the cheese because cheese isn’t a usual kitchen staple in an Asian household. What I did use may overwhelm you because of the weird ingredients but calm down. In lieu of cheese which brings a bold, pungent flavor, I went with the subtle umami flavor of bonito flakes (dried shaved fish). For more of an ocean vibe, I also added roasted nori (seaweed). It adds something visually, too. And just for texture, some sesame seeds.
Now you’re probably saying that it would be a pain to try to find all that in a store. And you’re right if you don’t have access to an Asian market. Even if you do have an Asian market, you might only find 2 out of 3 of those ingredients. Or maybe buying three separate ingredients may sound too much of a commitment. Ok, I understand. The simple solution is to find furikake at the Asian section or Amazon. It’s a Japanese rice seasoning that usually contains bonito flakes, nori, and sesame seeds in one shakible container. It’s about $3 and up depending on the flavor or ingredients.
And for spices, I used good ‘ole Sriracha.
Asian Corn Esquites (Serves 2) Prep time 15 minutes | Cook time 5-8 minutes
Fresh corn: 2 cobs
Japanese mayonnaise: 1-1/2 Tablespoons
Butter: 1 Tablespoon
Salt: 1/2 Teaspoon
Furikake: 2 Teaspoons
Roasted nori: 1 big pinch of thin stripped nori
Using a knife, shave the corn kernels into a bowl and set aside. Don’t discard the cobs yet. In another bowl, use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining corn remnants off the cob. Not only is this just getting the most out of the corn, that liquid has natural sugars and starches. Set aside.
Heat up the butter on a pan on medium high heat.
When the butter is melted and bubbly and smells a little nutty, add the corn kernels and stir fry the corn for about a minute. Add salt, and continue to mix and toss for another minute or two. Next, add the remaining corn remnants you scraped off and stir for another minute or two. This allows the natural sugars and starches to combine with the kernels.
Lower the heat to low and add the mayo and stir to combine for another minute or two. Make sure to stir and coat the kernels. The mayo and liquids will soon incorporate with each other and make it’s own creamy sauce. You don’t want to boil the mayo, just heat it through.
Take it off the heat and serve in a bowl.
Now enjoy my take on a popular Mexican street food.