Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

OMG. This recipe is so delicious. Need proof? Super Sous and I grilled 7 ears of corn when developing this recipe and devoured them all within 15 minutes. In fact, Super Sous exclaimed, “this is the best grilled corn dish I’ve ever had!” when all was said and gone, I mean done.

Elote or the Mexican-style street food version of corn is common to see here, being sold, in LA. Vendors in parks or on street corners set up camp with their makeshift grills, tub of mayonnaise, chili powder and cojita cheese, serving the sweet and savory cobs to eager customers.  It’s pretty fantastic; a pleasure on the taste buds.

Since Super Sous and I have been creating Drought Friendly Recipes, we realized that we could still enjoy this creamy crunchy corn on the cob, sans egg and cheese by doing a swap out with soymilk aioli (aioli is normally made with an egg, but soymilk acts as an emulsifier) and using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for the cheesy creaminess. Add to that a special spice mix blend we created (take that, chili powder!) and fresh chopped cilantro and you have a winner.

This recipe serves 12, but you may need to double or triple the batch. Trust us. It’s addictive.

 

corn shucked

Shucked corn with one layer of husk left

corn grilled

Grilled corn

Drought Friendly Aioli

Vegan Aioli

Elote with Aioli

Slathering on the aioli

Elote finished

Time to dig in

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

Yield: 12 servings

 

12 ears of corn, whole and unshucked

Vegan Aioli (recipe below)

Elote Spice Mix (recipe below)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro

 

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Shuck the corn, leaving 1 layer of husk covering the cob. Cut off the silk at top of corn.

Place the corn on the grill, close the lid, and grill for a total of 15 minutes, rotating the corn ⅓ turn every 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked and the husks are slightly charred.

Remove the corn from the grill, carefully shuck the corn (hot!). Brush with aioli, sprinkle some of the spice mix and yeast on the corn and top with cilantro.

Serve, enjoy, repeat.

 

Drought Friendly Vegan Aioli

Yield: 1 cup

 

1 large clove garlic, pressed (1/4 teaspoon)

3½ teaspoons lime juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup organic soy milk

2/3 cup organic grapeseed oil

 

Mix all ingredients except oil in a small container or bowl with high sides. (I used the glass container that goes with my French Press.

Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients thoroughly.

Keep the immersion blender a bit raised in the container, to where the liquid is churning vigorously. Slowly stream the oil into the vortex of the churning liquid. Don’t rush this step. The slower the oil stream, the better. The liquid will thicken and form to the consistency of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until use.

 

Elote Spice Mix

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder

 

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

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Not Too Spicy Green Papaya Salad

(Hey! Update to this post – you can watch me make this salad on my YouTube page. Thanks and now back to the blog…)

California drought friendly and delicious, this papaya salad is a refreshing, bright, crunchy, herbaceous and spicy (not too spicy!) dish, perfect for warm weather months.

Super Sous and I traveled to Vietnam in February, our first stop being Hanoi, the capital city in the North. Upon arrival, we immediately arranged a street food tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi (where we were staying). Our wonderful guide, Tam, took us on a whirlwind food extravaganza through the streets, alleys and hidden corridors to eat some of the best food Hanoi has to offer. From classics like Bun Cha to Egg Coffee to Beef Pho we ate A LOT, probably hitting up 7 different street food vendors/restaurants within the 3 hours of wandering.

Our third stop for the night was at a spot that served the best Papaya Salad we have ever had. At first, Super Sous and I were a little nervous about this dish as papaya salads we have eaten in Thai restaurants have been extremely spicy, but this salad was the perfect blend and balance of sweet, sour and spice. It was then that Super Sous and I fell in love with the Vietnamese papaya salad and despite our best efforts to not overeat and pace ourselves that evening, we couldn’t resist finishing off the whole salad.

Tam NL SS

Me, Tam – our street food tour guide – and Super Sous

Upon returning to California, we created our own version which comes pretty close to our experience. A note about the green papaya – you can find these in an Asian grocery store. (Sometimes they even have it pre-shredded in bags – score!) To shred yourself, cut in half, peel the section you want to use and shred using a citrus zester (photo below), a “noodler” (the instrument that makes zucchini noodles) a food processor (with the shredding attachment) or a box grater.

Citrus Zester

Citrus Zester

Now, a note about drought friendly recipes: Super Sous and I started the project of creating drought friendly recipes as a way for all of us around the country to help conserve California’s water. What I love about this recipe is the use of Virginia peanuts. They are so good! (It wouldn’t at all have anything to do with me being a Native Virginian…) Peanuts are a groundnut and therefore do not grow like almonds or walnuts in large orchards that require a lot of watering. Peanuts are a good source of protein and with their low water footprint, are a great alternative to almonds. According to the Water Footprint Organization, it takes 381 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of peanuts, whereas almonds require 6 times that amount. So, yay for peanuts!

green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yields: 2 servings

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, grated on a microplane

½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic, grated on a microplane

2 teaspoons minced lemongrass

¼ Bird’s eye aka Thai chili, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Salad:

2 cups packed shredded green papaya

¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced green beans, sliced on a bias (8 beans)

3 tablespoons whole toasted peanuts

½ cup quartered grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

 

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar dissolves.

Add papaya, carrot and green beans to dressing and massage ingredients together with your hands for approximately 30 seconds, to meld all flavors and allow dressing to permeate papaya.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide onto plates and serve.

Hanoi, Vietnam – Street Food

First day in Hanoi and Super Sous and I have hit the ground… eating! Wow. What a delicious food culture. Noodles, salads, rice, chicken, beef, vinegars, spice, sweet, sour… All so fresh and unique. And we’ve only just scratched the surface. Much more to explore and learn over the next few days!

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