The King of Street Corn

Usually, if I see street corn for sale, it's along the side of the road -- grilled right on the spot --over coals. And, truth be told, it is nothing to write home about. However, this is no ordinary street corn, and it wasn't on the street.

I discovered this version of street corn at Elvi's restaurant in the heart of San Pedro. I couldn't remember the name of the place until I noticed it almost spelled "Elvis". Okay, that connection registered. And, it makes perfect sense to me that the King of Street Corn was served at a restaurant almost named after the King of Rock and Roll.

Of course, the restaurant wasn't going to give me the recipe for this dish. I didn't ask. However, I had my corn with my nephew, Hunter, who is like a wizard in the kitchen. So, instead of the King's exact recipe, I learned how a wizard would whip up this dish.


The King of Street Corn
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
xxxx 12 ears of corn xxxx individual skewers optional, but desired
  3/4 cup of butter   1 cup chopped cilantro
  3/4 cup of mayonnaise   juice of 1 lime
  3/4 cup sour cream   salt and pepper to taste
  1 Tbs chili powder   2 Tbs annotte hot sauce
  1 garlic clove finely minced   1 1/2 cup queso fresca or feta cheese

My sister warned me. You have to be careful where you buy your corn in San Pedro. Go to a reputable grocery store. (Who would buy produce at a non-reputable grocery?) Well, it appears that almost no produce is actually grown on Ambergris Island. Most of the fruits and vegetables are brought in by boat on Tuesday's market day. And, if you buy corn off of a boat on market day, you might get corn meant for animal, instead of human, consumption.

Once you are satisfied with your corn, soak it a couple of hours to fully hydrate it. Then, grill it up over medium heat until parts of the ears are blackened. And, when that's done, you're done cooking. The heat in those ears takes care of the rest of the dish.

Brush on the butter over the corn until it melts. Mix up all the other ingredients (except the cheese) and then drizzle it over the corn. Finally, spinkle over the cheese. In San Pedro, queso fresca was used. I'm not one hundred percent sure that is available where I shop. It's close enough to feta cheese that it will easily work as a substitute.

The mystery ingredient in this recipe is the annotte hot sauce. It's used in almost every local dish on the island. You can purchase it in unmarked bags at most groceries. Everyone knows what it is without the need to read a label. It looks like a paste made from paprika. And, that reminded me of recipes I gathered in Mexico. As it turns out, "annotte" in English is translated as "achiote" in Spanish. And, I've come across achiote plenty of times in Mexico. It's a ground seed that dates back to Maya cooking. It mostly adds red coloring. If you can't find it, use paprika. Nobody outside of Central America will know you've made a terrible substitution.

Personally, it sounds like this recipe has a lot of butter, mayonnaise and sour cream for twelve ears of corn. However, if you have a lot left over, just save it and grill up some more corn the next day. Everybody wins.

Copyright 2017 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.