Corn with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt is delicious. Add some cheese, a little cayenne and paprika stuck onto the corn with mayo and you have one of Los Angeles’ most tastiest street snacks.
Everyone knows the familiar tune of the ice cream truck as it drives around your neighborhood. But if you happen in live anywhere near East LA, you also know the bell from the elote (corn) man.
Ask anyone from Eagle Rock, Atwater Village, or Highland Park if they like Mexican corn on the cob. I guarantee the answer will be unanimous. Who doesn’t love corn? During the summer when the corn is sweet and in season (and schools are out), the elote man can always be found.
Traditionally, the cooked corn is smothered with mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, a little lime juice, and a lot of spices. There is a unique umami taste from the cheese, the creamy mayo cools and coats your mouth, and by the time you finish eating the entire cob, your lips with tingle from the spices.
This is my version of the beloved street food. I did not have Cotija cheese so I substituted a mixture of grated parmesan and pecorino romano cheese. You still get the same saltiness and funk. I’ve never been a fan of mayonnaise, so I like to use whipped butter loaded with spices.
You have to use fresh corn still in the husk. Remove any damaged or discolored outer husks. Peel the husks down to the base of the corn, but do not detach from the cob. Remove the silk around the corn.
Pull the husks back up over the corn and tie the ends. I like to take a small piece of the husk and use it as a tie, but kitchen string also works. Boiling the corn in the husk protects the kernels from overcooking, keeps the corn moist, and it prevents the sweet corn flavor from leaching into the water.
Cook the corn in a large pot of salted boiling water. I used 6 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. I think it’s the perfect ratio of water to salt that helps highlight the sweetness of the corn. Let the corn cook for 8-10 minutes. If you don’t have a large enough pot, cook the corn in batches using the same water.
Once corn is cooked, peel back the husks and use it as a handle. Spread the seasoned butter all over the corn. Sprinkle cheese, crushed red pepper, salt, and any other toppings you prefer (sour cream, lime juice, hot sauce). Or if you are a purist, simply eat the corn directly from the pot. The salted water is enough seasoning for the corn. And enjoy!
Yield: 5 cobs of corn
- 5 ears fresh corn in the husk
- 6 quarts water
- 3 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
- 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
- 4 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese
- chopped chives, as needed
- crushed red pepper, as needed
- kosher salt, as needed
- In a large stock pot, bring 6 quarts of water and 3 Tbsp of kosher salt to a boil.
- Remove any damaged or discolored outer husks of corn. Peel the husks down to the base of the corn, but do not detach from the cob. Remove the silk around the corn.
- Pull the husks back up over the corn and tie the ends together using a small piece of husk or kitchen string.
- Gently put corn into the boiling salted water. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove corn from water, drain, and let sit for a couple minutes before opening (corn will be very hot).
- Peel back the husks and use it as a handle. Spread seasoned butter all over corn. Sprinkle cheese and other toppings over corn.
- In a small bowl, whipped softened butter. Add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, red pepper, and chili powder. Let butter sit for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Spread over cooked corn.