Elotes are arguably one of the best things to come from Mexico, maybe better than colored television or popcorn. I mean, who would expect such an odd combination of ingredients to taste so amazing? The creamy corn with the subtle (or not-so-subtle) spice and crumbled cotija cheese makes for a perfect comfort food year-round.
What makes this traditional Mexican street food so special (and, in my opinion, amazing) is the opportunity for personalization. By altering the ingredients, you can make your elote as creamy, spicy or cheesy as you want. You can have them on the cob or a cup, whatever you please.
Personally, I love them all loaded up with plenty of toppings. I love it when every bite is as creamy as the last.
Despite being at Miami University for only a couple of weeks, I was already feeling a bit homesick recently. When I was growing up in Chicago, getting an elote would be as simple as grabbing $4 and going on a short 10-minute walk. In Mexico? They were on nearly every street corner!
Here? I’m not sure it’s even possible to obtain one.
However, using what I remembered about them, and with a bit of help from my older sister, I was able to create a very simple recipe fit for the average broke college student. With this recipe, you’ll be able to create a taste of Mexico in your very own residence hall.
You will need corn, mayonnaise (for best results, I suggest using a lime-flavored one), lime juice and tajin seasoning, which, oddly enough, can be found in the produce aisle at Kroger and not with the other Hispanic foods.
The cheese is tricky, as traditionally you use crumbled cotija cheese, but grated parmesan works as a perfect substitute. (Cotija can also be found at Kroger, this time in the Hispanic foods section towards the back.) You can choose to use different cheeses, but the flavor may be off.
Some people also opt to add Valentina hot sauce, as it gives the elotes an extra kick of spice.
Finally, you’ll need Parkay Squeeze Margarine Spread, which is commonly found in the dairy aisle. Oddly enough, most recipes leave this out, but in my opinion, it is what makes the elote. Every street vendor I’ve seen uses it, and it’s responsible for that creamy, buttery taste.
To sum that up, a list of ingredients:
Corn of your choice
Mayo (lime-flavored is preferable)
Grated cotija or parmesan cheese
Valentina hot sauce (optional)
Lime juice (if you didn’t get lime-flavored mayo)
Parkay Squeeze Margarine Spread
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For starters, the corn. Like this entire recipe, this portion is entirely up to your personal preference.
Although grilled is my personal favorite, I opted to microwave my corn. If your corn is still in its husk, simply remove it, then wrap it in a moist paper towel and microwave it until the kernels are tender, which should be roughly 3-5 minutes. You can also boil it, or go the simplest route and buy it canned.
Then simply remove the kernels from the cob. This is most easily done with a fork.
Now you can go ahead and begin assembling your elote by creating a mixture of mayo, Parkay Squeeze, tajin and cheese in a cup. It’s important not to use too much of any one ingredient as it could overpower the corn, but the ratio is completely up to you!
You will then dump your corn into the cup, leaving space for a final layer of, again, Parkay Squeeze, mayo, tajin and cheese. Finally, squeeze in a bit of lime juice (if you used plain mayo) and drizzle your optional hot sauce as a final touch.
And with that, you now have your own elote in a cup. This honestly came out incredible when I made it and tasted just like the ones street vendors in Chicago make. The flavors brought me back home and cured a bit of my homesickness.
This is something you can make over and over, as the ingredients aren’t meant for one-time use, and best of all, corn is extremely cheap. I mean, we are in Ohio, after all.