Corn with Espelette Salt from Lafayette Spices

A New Way to Kick Up Mexican Street Corn

Katherine Loffreto

Of all our salts and seasonings, the Espelette Pepper Salt may be best at transporting the diner to another place and time. The espelette pepper is a very special one – perhaps one of the most revered peppers in all the western hemisphere. It’s cultivated in the French commune of Espelette - in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, a department in the southwest corner of France. It takes its name from the Pyrenees Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It covers the French Basque country and the Béarn. In 2000 the pepper was classified as an AOC product – which is a special French certification typically reserved for very important wines, cheeses, and butters. It is based on the concept of terroir and a form of geographic protectionism.  The peppers themselves are sweet, slightly smoky, and only obtain a maximum of about 4,000 on the Scoville scale – considering them to be pretty mild. The most impressive part of these tasty little peppers is perhaps their extreme versatility. When blended with coarse Spanish salt – it becomes a recipe for greatness!

One of our favorite applications for this spectacular finishing salt is Mexican street corn! Otherwise known as Elote. A ridiculously easy and stunningly delicious use of fresh summer sweet corn, with a few added yummy ingredients. Start by sourcing the freshest corn you can get your hands on. Head to the farmers market, or better yet, head directly to the farm. The fresher the better. As corn sits, the sugars turn to starch – making the corn lose that sweet crunch we all crave. Once shucked, season your corn with just a little oil and Espelette Pepper Salt. Then it’s grill time! Grill until the kernels are tender and juicy and the corn has a slight char. That part’s important! It should be a little burnt and smoky!

Then comes the fun part, it’s time to coat the cob! Make a mixture of mayo, Mexican crema, finely chopped cilantro, and minced garlic. Slather the grilled cobs with the mixture, evenly coating the whole thing. Then, coat all that flavor packed goodness with finely crumbled Cotija cheese. The dried cheese should easily stick to the mayo coated corn. Then it’s just time to garnish. Sprinkle our Espelette Pepper Salt over the freshly coated cobs and serve with lime wedges. This could quite possibly be the most delicious way to eat corn, made only that much better by our sweet and smoky Espelette Pepper Salt. You won’t believe how quickly you’re ready to dive into a second ear.

When it comes to working with this treasured seasoning, try to think out of the box. The peppers come from France, and the salt is from Spain – neither are Mexico of course. And yet the salt finds a welcome home in this preparation. That is to say, push the boundaries a bit. This European sourced product can just as easily be used in preparations based in Asian, African, and South American cooking. Be creative, and let your imagination run wild!