Photograph by Brian Ferry
From Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week: A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones
Elote is a Mexican street snack sold on every corner in Mexico. It’s a pretty offbeat combination of corn, chile powder, butter, and lime (and sometimes even mayonnaise), served in a polystyrene cup and normally topped with crema (sour cream). Sounds weird but it tastes delicious.
I like making my version of elote by caramelizing corn and adding lime
and chile, popping it into a taco, and topping it with agave-spiced popcorn. It’s got a bit of Jeff Koons kitsch and tastes ridiculously good.
I love that corn is used in three ways here: the charred corn kernels, the popped corn, and the corn tortillas. Corn is such a clever and versatile food. I spent some time on an Indian reservation a few years back and I was blown away by the ingenuity of the cooks with corn: breads, cakes, stews—it seems to be part of everything. Eating corn in three different ways here means you maximize its vitamins and minerals, and different ways of preparing it bring different benefits for your body.
These are a perfect supper or lunch. I eat two mini ones and feel satisfied, so that’s what I have accounted for here, but someone really hungry (my John) could eat three or four.
I use cayenne pepper, as it packs a good heat punch that is backed up with
a deep roasted red pepper and almost sun-dried tomato flavor. It has recently been in the limelight, mixed with maple syrup as the “master cleanse” detox choice of many celebrities. Reap the benefits in this delicious recipe rather than sipping miserably from a bottle of watery spicy syrup.
For the Popcorn:
3 tablespoons popcorn kernels
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
For the Caramelized Corn:
4 corn on the cob
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest and juice of
1 unwaxed lime
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red or green chile, finely chopped
Scant ½ cup/100 ml all-natural yogurt or crème fraîche
Juice of ½ a lime
8 mini corn or wheat tortillas, or 4 big ones
3½ ounces/100 g feta cheese, drained and crumbled
a bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
First get the popcorn going. Place a large pan over low heat and add a splash of oil. Add the popcorn kernels and put the lid on. Shake the pan vigorously every minute or so to keep the kernels from burning. The corn will start to pop after a couple of minutes. Once the popping has stopped, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool a little.
Next, mix together the popcorn spice. Mix the salt, spices, and honey or agave syrup in a little pan; warm and mix. Next, toss with the popcorn until everything is coated.
Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn cobs. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the kernels for 5 to 10 minutes, until charred and caramelized. Add salt and pepper, the lime zest and juice, and the cayenne and chile; then take off the heat, stir in a tablespoon of yogurt, and cover the pan with foil to keep the corn warm.
Peel the avocados, remove the pits, and then chop the flesh into little pieces. Put them into a bowl and squeeze over a little lime juice.
Warm your tortillas—I do this by holding them in a gas flame with a pair of tongs, but warming them in the oven or frying them in a dry nonstick pan will work just as well.
Divide the corn kernels between the tortillas and top with a spoonful of yogurt or crème fraîche, some avocado, some crumbled feta, and a pinch of chopped cilantro. Top with a scattering of popcorn and then fold up in your hands and eat.
Reprinted with permission from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones (Ten Speed Press).
More vegetarian tacos: