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Elote fried rice merges Mexican, Asian flavors in celebration of summer

By Leah Eskin • Sep 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Elotes are almost all I want to eat by the end of the summer. The Mexican roasted corn slathered with mayo, spiked by chile powder, tart from lime and showered with cotija cheese has become the fleeting flavor of the season.

With dinnertime sunlight fading fast, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook. Luckily across the street from my old brick bungalow in Chicago, a city park elotero makes elotes to order, on the cob or as kernels sliced into a cup. I want nothing more than an elote ear, eaten over steamed white rice, scooped into my favorite vintage Pyrex pie plate to better catch fallen, flavorful kernels.

That might be fine for a quiet solo meal, but an awkward translation to more sociable settings.

When I do want to make a dish to share at backyard potlucks, I’ll bring my elote fried rice, creating a convergence of immigrant cultures. This is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe. Its base is my easiest fried-rice blank canvas, to which I add charred and roasted kernels of corn, then finish with all the garnishes of elotes, plus a riot of sharp scallions, fresh cilantro and crunchy chicharron. Altogether they are a celebration of summer.

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Elote fried rice

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 3 to 4 minutes

Makes: 2 to 4 servings

4 tablespoons fat (peanut or coconut oil, or lard)

2 thumb-size pieces ginger, peeled, sliced thick

3 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole

2 ears corn, roasted, kernels sliced off cob

4 cups cooked rice, cooled

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 scallions, sliced as thin as possible

2 tablespoons mayonnaise, Kewpie or Just Mayo preferably

½ cup slightly crushed chicharron or roasted peanuts

½ cup cilantro, whole leaves and tender stems

¼ cup grated cotija cheese or nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon Tajín or ground chile

Lime wedges

Sriracha or other hot sauce

Smoked salt, optional

1 Heat wok or skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons fat, carefully swirling to coat pan. Add ginger and garlic; stir-fry until garlic is fragrant and barely browns, about 10 seconds. Add corn; stir-fry just to coat with fat, 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining fat, carefully swirling. Add rice; stir-fry, carefully breaking up any clumps, until just coated and hot, 2 minutes. Add soy sauce around edge of rice; stir-fry to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining fat as needed.

2 Turn off heat; stir in scallions quickly. Transfer to a big serving bowl. Remove ginger and garlic if desired.

3 Garnish with squiggles of mayo, then a shower of chicharron, cilantro, cotija and Tajín to taste. Serve with lime wedges, Sriracha and smoked salt on the side.

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©2017 Chicago Tribune

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