Mexican corn salad with an Asian twist

With the chill in the air, menus should be moving toward soups and stews.

But cooler weather is spurring on the garden’s arugula, mache, spinach and lettuces planted in anticipation of fall climes that discourage bolting of these tender greens. And with frost bound to materialize within the next couple of weeks, they won’t last forever. So salads it is!

Last night’s dinner was almost-classic Cobb with crisped turkey bacon and Rogue Creamery sharp garlic cheddar. The beauty of salads, of course, as Jan Roberts-Dominguez pointed out in a recent column is they can take many directions based on the seasons or whatever’s in the fridge.

But one salad got such rave reviews a couple weeks ago that I’d be smart to make it again while corn on the cob can still be had. I also added some of the tiniest fingerling potatoes the garden produced this year, another limited commodity.

Inspired by Jan’s use of corn in salads, I intended to produce a dish based on Mexican flavors to eat at Britt. Little did I know I was riffing on “esquites,” a classic, south-of-the-border combination of grilled corn kernels, lime-spiked mayonnaise, chili powder and cotija cheese.

I would have used cotija if I’d had it hand but settled for feta with its salty tang, if somewhat moister consistency. I also added chopped, fresh green onions from the garden, a minced, fresh Anaheim chili and plenty of fresh lime zest and juice. Just a bit of tomato added color, but I went light on it in deference to friends’ plans to bring a tomato-cucumber salad. Chopped, fresh zucchini also would be appropriate in this.

The secret ingredient, though, isn’t Latin. A fan of Asian-style, sweet-chili sauce, my husband tried to convince me to add it to our salmon sandwiches, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I dolloped some into the dressing for this salad, along with the lime juice, rice-wine vinegar and cumin. At first I worried the chili sauce overwhelmed other flavors, but once the salad chilled in the refrigerator for a couple hours, the lime took center stage

Whenever I improvise on a dish, it’s almost guaranteed that someone will ask for the recipe, which our friends did about a week later. Then I’m forced to recount in very rambling, imprecise fashion how to replicate the dish — not exactly a ringing endorsement of expertise in the kitchen.

So in case I get that request again — and to share it with friends and readers — I decided to spell it out here.

Esquites, photo courtesy of McClatchy News Service

Esquites, photo courtesy of McClatchy News Service

Fresh Corn Salad With an Asian Twist

6 ears fresh corn, husked

1⁄2 pound small fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

2 green onions, chopped (both white and green parts)

1 fresh Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded and finely minced

1 tomato, cored and diced (may substitute 1⁄2 red bell pepper, finely chopped)

2 limes

1⁄4 cup rice-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Asian-style sweet-chili sauce

1⁄2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1⁄4 cup good-quality, extra-virgin olive oil

1⁄2 cup crumbled feta or cotija cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the corn in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove ears from pot to drain, but do not pour out water. Add the potatoes to pot, return water to a boil and cook potatoes for about 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with knife. Drain and let cool.

While potatoes are cooking, cut kernels from corn cobs, keeping large chunks of kernels intact, and place kernels in a medium serving bowl with the green onions, Anaheim chili and tomato. Zest 1 of the limes into bowl.

Halve both limes and squeeze juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add the vinegar, sweet-chili sauce, cumin and garlic powder to cup and stir to combine. Whisk in the olive oil; set dressing aside.

When potatoes are cool, cut any larger ones into bite-sized pieces and add to salad mixture with the cheese; toss to combine. Drizzle with enough dressing to moisten, adjusting seasoning with the salt, pepper and more dressing, if desired.

Serve salad at room temperature or chill for 2 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives