Esquites – Best snack ever?
I’ve had a major thing for Mexican food lately. I think I may even have become hooked on chillies. It’s well known that the little rush of adrenaline you get from the heat is addictive. Chillies contain capsaicin, which is used in medicine as a painkiller. It’s particularly effective on nerve pain. Jamie Oliver calls it ‘nature’s morphine’. I’m in!
I attribute this current love of all things Mexican to Marcela Valladolid. I found myself caught in a Food Network spiral one Saturday afternoon and got drawn into a Mexican Made Easy marathon. I bought the book and am still nursing a high scoring girl-crush.
I watched Marcela make esquites – creamy corn cups. She told a cute story about how her mum used to take the family out at the drop of a hat to satisfy her esquites cravings. Marcela’s reaction on eating the ones she made on the show was unusually enthusiastic for, well, corn. I made some to see what the fuss was about.
The enthusiasm wasn’t forced. I’m not sure how corn can taste so good, but somehow it does. In fact, I made one cup, then talked myself into making another as a snack the next evening while cooking a completely different meal.
I boiled and cleared the corn cobs, then pressed in the sauce; a combination of lime juice, sour cream, mayo, butter and mild feta cheese. (I couldn’t find queso fresco.)
Marcela topped hers with chili-lime powder. They sell lime powder in the Mexican section at Sous Chef, but I don’t have any at the moment. I replaced with chilli powder and lime zest. I actually loved that spike of freshness at the top. It cut through the richness of the cream.
I love this book. I’ve already cooked some more from it, but I’ll save those recipes for another day. My only gripe is with geography. Buying a Mexican cookbook published in the US, there were always going to be ingredients that had to be substituted. There are some, though, that have no substitutes that I know of. I don’t know what to replace chayote with, and I can only find tomatillos in jars. There just isn’t the demand for these fresh ingredients in the UK. I shall soldier on regardless.