How I Grill Corn (taking inspiration from elotes)
I got introduced to the idea of elotes—Mexican street corn—last year. I grill a lot of corn in the summer as part of meals, so people kept telling me to try elotes. When I looked over the ingredients, I stopped at “mayonnaise.” I loathe the look and smell of mayo, and tolerate a light coating of well-produced mayo on sandwich bread. I certainly don’t want to work with the stuff when I’m cooking. I don’t want to be put off food in the process of making it.
So I didn’t bother trying to make elotes last year.
Also, last year I didn’t have the spice game I have this year, thanks to frequent trips to Market Spice in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. I have a drawer full of fantastic spice mixes, and love to find new ways to use them.
This year, I’m firing up the grill and getting corn ready, and it hits me: I can take inspiration from elotes without being a prescriptivist.
First, make a butter-spice mash
I throw a bunch of soft butter in a small bowl—a little more than I need to cover the entirety of the cobs I’m gonna grill. Then I throw in spices. Last night, I used:
- Garlic sea salt
- Market seasoning from Market Spice
- Greek seasoning from Market Spice
- Some crushed garlic
And I smashed them all together until I get a fantastic-looking paste. As far as for how much I use, I don’t really measure beyond “do the spices seriously change the color of the paste yet?”, then I add a bit more.
Also the obvious: garlic is a theme in cooking in our house. Use whatever spices and seasonings are your jam. You do you.
Second, coat the corn
Get that paste all over that corn. If you’re grilling in husks, awesome. If you’re like me, and your local store doesn’t have corn-in-husk yet but has packed stuff—I use foil in those cases.
I wrap each corn individually.
Third, cook that corn up good
Whatever “good” means to you. Good means this to me:
If you used foil, you might have some butter runoff when you unwrap your golden gift. Pour that on top of your corn!
Point is, when you read a recipe and see that it doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you should through out the good ideas it has. Take some time to see what the recipe is doing and experiment for yourself.
 If someone made elotes for me, I’d try it. But I don’t deal with mayo on its own.
 Which is, funnily enough, also how I approach language.