VEGAN Elotes – Succulent sweet corn grilled to perfection, doused in a flavorful cashew crema and rolled in more cashews for that touch of decadence.
When we were house hunting last winter, the day we saw the house we ended up buying, we drove around the neighborhood to get a feel of the area we could possibly be living in for quite a while, and after driving around for hours, we stopped at a SoCal inspired Mexican Cantina for dinner. One of the things we ordered was a Char-grilled Street Corn, with a tangy chipotle aioli and cotija topping. It was towards the end of last year, when I was still transitioning to veganism, and I cheated on my newfound values with this incredible dish, albeit with a twinge of guilt. Although by the time the last kernel was chewed and done, there were no traces of regret or guilt left.
It wouldn’t be entirely untrue if I said that this amazing Cantina became one of the reasons we ended up buying this house. Another reason was the Five Guys across the street, but I’ll tell you about that another day. Ever since, we always go to this Cantina on days that warrant a little celebration, but sadly, I’ve never been able to re-taste the deliciousness that is their Elotes on account of the aioli and cotija.
Elotes are a popular street food in Mexico, where corn on the cob is either boiled or grilled, the husk is then peeled back to form a handle to eat the corn with before being flavored and seasoned to serve. Esquites is a variation of the same dish, but instead of eating the corn on the cob, the cooked+cut kernels are seasoned and eaten out of a cup.
We haven’t been back to the Cantina in a while now, but I was re-watching Sense8 on Netflix last week (on account of the Finale release) when this scene reminded me of Elotes and couldn’t stop thinking of them.
Side Note: Sense8 is one of my all-time favorite shows and if you haven’t watched it yet, you really should. In this scene, Lito (the Hispanic man) is feeling everything that Sun (the Korean woman) is feeling, and she is on her period. So this scene is absolutely hilarious to all women who ever wished they could inflict first day period pains upon men. Warning: explicit language.
So obviously, I went and picked up as many ears of corn as I could possibly carry in my hand and came home to make this cashew crema sauce – seasoned with a touch of paprika, garlic, cajun seasoning and lime juice, it is so creamy and decadent that I would want to bathe in it.
My husband says I am very receptive to random visual cues on TV. I have no idea what he’s talking about. 😉
Some like the sauce runny enough to drizzle, others like it thick enough to be slathered on top of the grilled corn to form a bedding on which the cheese topping will rest upon. Either ways, make sure you soak the cashews till soft, so that when you grind it to a paste, you get a smooth, creamy concoction without too much effort. Adjust the seasoning to taste – if you like it more tangy, add more lime juice. If you want it more spicy, substitute the paprika with chipotle sauce. If you like it more garlicky, add more garlic. You get the idea.
This is one of those situations where the recipe is simply a guideline for you to create something customized and uniquely ‘you’.
Coarsely pulse cashews (non-soaked, raw) until it resembles the cotija cheese that usually coats a classic Elote. It’s not going to be soft, like cheese, but what it lacks in texture, it will make up for in decadence. Once you’ve coated the grilled corn in the cashew crema, douse it in this cashew crumble, spritz of lime and a sprinkle of paprika.
Then dive in with wanton abandon, because this one definitely warrants it. Fair warning, it’s not going to be a delicate affair; you gotta get your hands and face in there, and when you’re done, you’re going to have an uncouth looking layer of cashew crema around your mouth, but hey! when it comes to food, I say, live like there’s no tomorrow.
If you’re making these VEGAN Elotes for a large group, make the cashew crema (in excess) and crumbled cashew the night before. Refrigerate the crema and store the crumble in a clean, dry jar at room temperature. And when you’re ready to throw the corn onto the grill, the fixings are all ready to be assembled. Drown everything in the sauce and enjoy your very VEGAN Elotes. Don’t forget to garnish with cilantro at the end for that citrus-y burst of herb goodness.