Fresh local corn is still in abundance here, but it won’t be long before the season is over. Until then, enjoy every last kernel you can! This Mexican-inspired Grilled Corn Salsa is just like a party on a corn chip.
Part of the fun of modern scratch living, our motto around here, is jazzing up old favourites through new flavour twists and updated presentations.
Case in point: sweet corn. I love corn, and there are many recipes here at Urban Cottage Life that feature it. Is there anything better than corn on the cob on a summer day, especially eaten outdoors at a picnic table? For years, I made this in the simplest of ways: boiled corn slathered in butter with a generous sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring on the napkins and dental floss!
Then I started to kick up the flavour of corn on the cob by grilling it with spiced oil and adding herbs and cheese for a Mexican-inspired treat.
But you know, good as it is, corn on the cob isn’t always the best choice for every meal. Let’s face it, it’s messy and it takes two hands. It was time for a new approach.
And Then There Was Grilled Corn Salsa
So, I started to play with the idea of transforming that grilled, seasoned corn into a side dish. But then my mind, busy place that it is, jumped to using it as an appetizer. And that’s how I ended up with what I’m calling a salsa for lack of a better term at the moment. Spooned onto corn chips, each bite is a perfect taste of summer with Mexican-inspired flair.
Oh yes, this is definitely a party on a corn chip!
If you're making classic boiled corn or spicy grilled corn, why not make a few extra cobs for this salsa? If not, no worries — it's no big deal to make this dish from scratch when the fancy strikes. This is a Freestyle Kitchen post: it's not so much a recipe as the story of how I noodled around to make this. (Like any recipe, read through it before starting, and make sure you have all the ingredients and understand the steps in the process.) The yield will vary, depending on the size of the corn cobs, etc., but I find it makes about 2-1/4 cups of salsa.
Make a seasoned oil with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp dried oregano and 1/4 tsp ground cumin (OR keep things easier by using 1-3/4 tsp of chili powder instead of the 4 seasonings listed here). Add a few turns of the pepper grinder and whisk everything together with a fork.
Prepare 3 ears of sweet corn as needed for your preferred method of cooking them (e.g., boiling, microwave, etc.); then cook the corn and set it aside on a cutting board.
Pre-heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium high heat (you could also use the barbecue to grill the corn).
Finely chop half a small cooking onion and 1 red chili pepper, as well as a generous handful of cilantro (or less if you prefer).
Brush the cooked corn with the oil mixture. Grill the corn cobs on the griddle or in the skillet, letting them sizzle away, turning from time to time until many of the kernels are nicely browned (they won't all touch the surface of the pan and brown, but don't worry about it). Place the grilled corn back on the cutting board to cool until you can handle it.
Turn the heat under the griddle or skillet down to medium low. Add a couple teaspoons of olive oil, then the prepared onion and chili pepper, and stir frequently for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown. Place the onion and chili in a large bowl.
Slice the kernels off the corn cobs (see note) and also place into the bowl. Add a good sprinkling of kosher or sea salt and more pepper. Stir well, ensuring you break apart all the corn kernels. Add at least 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese, the chopped cilantro and the juice of half a lime. Toss everything together, then taste and adjust the seasonings and lime juice as needed. (Use a little more lime juice than you think is necessary; when the salsa is eaten with the tortilla chips, the acidity of the lime won't seem as strong.)
Serve with tortilla chips. To present, you can either place the corn salsa and the tortilla chips in separate bowls and let guests serve themselves, or prepare the salsa-adorned chips ahead of time like canapés. Fancy!
My preferred method for slicing the kernels off a cob of corn is to lay the corn on a cutting board. Steadying the cob with one hand, I use a chef’s knife to slice off a few rows of kernels. Then I roll the cob and continue slicing until all the kernels have been removed. Take care not to cut yourself when doing this!
Looking for More Ideas for Corn?
There’s so much you can do with corn, and here are some recipes where it really shines: Black Bean Salad with Grilled Corn & Grilled Peaches, Mango Corn Salsa, and Grilled Corn Soup.
First Published 2015 08 01
Republished 2020 09 16