Elote Cauliflower Rice with Shrimp + Mango Salsa
As most of you know, I used to review restaurants before I switched gears and fell in love with home cooking. While I was dining out, one of the dishes I used to have all of the time was elote, AKA grilled Mexican corn on the cob with spices, crumbly cotija cheese (very similar to feta) and sometimes served with a zesty crema or aioli. All together, you get this sweet crunchy corn with a brilliant char, some smoke and heat from the spices, and some zesty, tangy creaminess from the crema or aioili. Please see below to get your taste buds turned on.
Elote is brilliant. That being said, I wanted to incorporate this beloved side dish and its unique flavors into a nutritious entrée. I used corn off the cob and sautéd it with some cauliflower rice and ground spices. To make this as easy and accessible as possible, I used powdered spices. However, always feel free to replace powder with the real deal. For example, if you want to use sliced chilis instead of chili powder, by all means do it! Same thing applies to garlic and onion. Also feel free to add any other ingredients that make you happy. There are no rules, just that you enjoy your food.
The corn rice mixture itself is fabulous, but it still gives off “side dish” vibes. You can totally serve it as a side for a protein. I added seared shrimp (you can also use chicken, cod, salmon…any protein with a mild flavor) and then topped it all with a mango salsa. This just helped it come together as a more well-rounded main course. Mango salsa is not a traditional pairing for elote, however, I personally enjoy it. There is something about tropical sweetness combined with salty creamy cotija cheese, buttery seared shrimp, intense raw red onion and the fragrant, savory spices in the rice that makes me swoon. The sweetness of the mango also plays really nicely off the corn. However, feel free to skip the mango salsa and just serve the rice as is! Of course, it’s easier to make when there’s one less step.
|1/4cup diced red onion or shallot|
|1/4cup diced tomato|
|1/4cup diced mango|
|2tsp lime juice|
|Pinch of salt|
|Elote Cauliflower Rice|
|Avocado oil for pan|
|2 1/2cups cauliflower rice|
|1 1/2tsp onion powder|
|2tsp chili powder|
|1tsp garlic powder|
|2tsp lime juice|
|1/4cup crumbled cotija cheese|
|Pinch of salt|
|1tbsp crumbled cotija cheese|
|Pinch of salt|
|Pinch of pepper|
|1tsp lime juice|
Prepare the mango salsa by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and mixing together. Feel free to add more salt, adjust the lime juice, or add some black pepper as well. Set the salsa aside.
Time to make the cauliflower rice! If using frozen cauliflower rice, make sure to drain all of the excess water out of it. Set aside.
Season a wok or skillet with oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice and corn (if using frozen, you can add it directly to the pan.) Sauté for 5 minutes until the corn is cooked and the rice begins to crisp a bit. Add the chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Continue sautéing for another 3 minutes. Add the cotija cheese (or feta, if using) and lime juice. Mix until the cheese is melted and the rice appears to be creamy. Taste to make sure all of the seasoning is to your liking. If it's not, feel free to adjust!
Plate the rice with sliced avocado on top, fresh cilantro and some extra crumbled cheese.
You can make the shrimp while the rice cooks, or you can make it in the same pan once the cauliflower rice is done. Pat the shrimp dry and sprinkle salt and pepper on each side. Season a skillet with oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, place the shrimp onto the pan and let them cook for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown on one side. Then, flip the shrimp and let them cook again for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown on the other side. Right before removing from the pan, squeeze of drizzle lime juice onto the shrimp and toss once more.
Top the rice with some seared shrimp and add some mango salsa on the side, or also on top of the rice. Plate however you like! Serve immediately.
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