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Summer corn. I could live on it. But doesn’t corn on the cob get boring after awhile? I don’t have a grill, so I boil my corn, and inevitably I miss that charred flavor you get from grilling.
seriouseats.com to the rescue. I started making their Mexican street corn salad a couple of years ago, when they first posted this recipe. I haven’t stopped. It’s what I return to every summer, as soon as the first corn hits the farm stands and farmers markets. Sometimes I buy a grotesque amount of corn, cut off the kernels and freeze them for future consumption.
Tossing the corn in a cast-iron skillet over high heat nicely mimics the flavors grilling imparts. Hot, smoky and sweet, the corn doesn’t get lost in the mayonnaise dressing because it’s just the right amount, and a squeeze of a lime enhances all the flavors, individually and collectively.
This is a simple salad. There’s no need to dress it up further. In fact, I sometimes omit the jalapeno because I don’t often have it lying around and am either too lazy to get my butt to the store or don’t want to have to deal with putting on extra protection to prevent jalapeno finger burn.
If you’ve never gotten the burn and don’t know what I’m talking about, heed this warning: Do not touch jalapeno seeds with your bare hands. The heat will do something to your skin that will make you miserable for hours - it’ll tingle, then burn, then keep you up at night. Especially important: Do not rub your eyes with your burning fingers.
Instead, shield your fingers with some plastic wrap or plastic bag when removing the seeds from the pepper.
The jalapeno does add a nice punch of heat to the dish, so try not to skip.
One note: I have a strong hatred of cilantro, so I omit it any time any recipe calls for it, but if you’re of the other camp, you’ll probably want to add 1/2 cup of the evil stuff, finely chopped.
Mexican street corn salad
Minimally adapted from seriouseats.com
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kernels of 4 ears of corn (or about 3 cups corn kernels)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces feta or cotija cheese, crumbled (I use more)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of chili powder
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels, salt. Let char before stirring to char the other side. Continue to stir until evenly charred, about 5-10 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix charred corn with mayonnaise, feta, scallions, jalapeno, garlic and chili powder. Add lime juice, starting with juice of half a lime and tasting before adding more.
Like Pavlov’s dog, the start of fall triggers an unhinged desire to buy more apples than one person can responsibly eat, and drink gallons of apple cider, and wrap myself in cozy sweaters and read by pumpkin-scented candles.