Maíz is an invention created by our Mexican ancestors, and it is one of the most culturally relevant ingredients that has spawned over 6 varieties and more than 500 seed varieties. Nothing compares to the slightly sweet and mostly savory flavor of freshly grilled sweet corn, especially when you add heaps of crema and ground chile California. We’ll cut the corn off the cob, and present it family style or in cups—esquite style! Reprinted with permission from La Vida Verde by Jocelyn Ramirez, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Zohra Banon

Esquite con Crema (Grilled Corn and Cream) [Vegan]

Serves

6

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Ingredients

For the Cashew Crema:

  • 5 oz (142 g) raw cashew pieces, soaked and drained (see Notes)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

For the Esquite:

  • 6–7 ears corn
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) dried chile
  • California powder, plus extra for serving
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegan mayonnaise
  • Salt, to taste
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Preparation

For the Cashew Crema:

  1. To make the crema, add the soaked and drained cashew pieces to a blender with the water, lemon juice and salt. Blend until completely smooth to create a creamy consistency. (It should be slightly salty and tangy.) If you have a squeeze bottle available, add the crema to a bottle to decoratively garnish your dish.

For the Esquite:

  1. To make the esquite, turn a burner on to high heat. Using heatproof tongs, use the open flame to char the corn ears for about 10 to 12 minutes until slightly blackened and blistered on all sides. Hold the corn over the flame and turn evenly until it is charred. Add the cooked corn on the cob to a baking sheet, and allow to cool to the touch. Once the corn is cool enough to touch, use a knife to cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chile California powder to slightly toast it in the oil. You should be able to smell the aroma of the chile cooking in the oil.
  3. Once the mixture is fragrant (typically 1 minute or less) add the kernels of charred corn to the pan to warm through. Use a spoon to mix the oil and chile mixture into the corn until it is coated. Remove from the heat.
  4. Finish the esquite in the pan by adding the vegan mayonnaise and salt to taste. Mix until it’s all well incorporated, and serve in a medium dish.
  5. Use the crema in the squeeze bottle to gently squeeze on large zigzag shapes over the esquite. Lastly, use up to 1 tablespoon (8 g) of chile California to dust over the top of your dish.
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