We ask a lot of elotes, the Mexican corn covered in mayonnaise, cotija, chile powder and lime. They are the only common cob topping at cookouts beyond butter. (They’re also a great dish to bring up when someone foolishly says they hate mayo, because in elotes, this divisive condiment is both the key ingredient and undetectable.)
And yes, elotes are delicious. But why are they alone in the world of go-to cobbery? Why aren’t there more ways to corn on the cob?
There can be. There are now.
Use these ideas as a starting point. Corn is wildly versatile; your favorite pantry ingredient of the moment will probably work slathered on corn. Just be sure to use butter, mayo or something thick and creamy to help the flavorings adhere. Corn + tahini + lemon + smoked paprika? Corn + butter + anchovy paste + parsley? The world is your corn cob.
CreditRyan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.
If you’ve had the pleasure of eating your way through a bucket of Maryland blue crabs poured out onto newspaper, you’ve probably had Old Bay seasoning, and you know it’s old pals with corn. Here you get that seaside flavor without the pressure of getting fresh crab.
Lime juice, fish sauce and sugar are a powerful combination you should commit to memory. They form the base of several classic Thai and Vietnamese sauces like nuoc cham and prik nam pla. But they also form a three-ingredient shortcut sauce that complements almost anything (seared meat or fish, rice, greens, even a plate of watermelon). But first, try them this way: stirred into mayonnaise, slathered on corn, topped with chopped roasted peanuts. The cilantro is optional so no one will throw a fit.
Corn covered in miso butter is special enough. But for lovers of spice, the Japanese spice blend shichimi togarashi makes this dish special, and is worth seeking out. In English, it translates to “seven-flavor chile pepper,” though not all of those seven flavors are chile; there’s also roasted orange peel, sesame seeds, ground ginger and seaweed in the mixture.
This vegan cob topping features coconut oil for richness, lime juice for a little acid and finely chopped toasted coconut chips for extra texture.
Cacio e pepe is a traditional Italian pasta dish made with pecorino, Parmesan, black pepper and a little pasta cooking water. These cobs borrow the flavors of the traditional dish, but the cheese sauce is not thinned with water, so it’s very rich and creamy.
This recipe delivers a hot wings moment minus the meat. Fair warning: It features blue cheese, and there are people in this world who think Buffalo sauce pairs better with ranch dressing (and even some people who detest blue cheese). Maybe you are one of them. If so, you can drizzle ranch (or our recipe for yogurt ranch sauce) over the Buffalo-slathered cobs.