The following is an excerpt and recipe from Michael Gardiner's cookbook "Cali Baja Cuisine," which explores the vibrant flavors of Baja California. It will be available September 26 on Amazon.

Esquítes is Mexican street corn salad — kernels of corn slathered in mayonnaise; tossed with crumbled cheese, lime juice, chile powder, and cilantro; and served up in a cup. Esquítes may not be on every street corner in Tijuana, but every other street corner might not be too much of a stretch. When I staged at La Justina on Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución, esquítes was one of the dishes I was responsible for.

That was only a few years before New York’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar first brought corn ribs — a deep-fried strip of corn kernels held in place by a sliver of the corncob — to the attention of America’s dining public. TikTok took it from there and made corn ribs a bona fide fad. Fried, baked, or grilled, they suddenly seemed to be everywhere. And they seemed to me like a natural delivery vehicle for corn done up esquítes-style.

Corn Ribs Esquites-Style

  • Prep Time:8 mins
  • Cook Time:25 mins
  • Total Time:33 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy


  • 4 ears fresh corn shucked
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 ounces Cotija feta or Parmesan cheese finely crumbled or grated
  • cup thinly sliced green onions green parts only
  • cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1 medium jalapeño chile stemmed seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 medium cloves garlic crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise 
page 255
  • 1 tbsp 
fresh lime juice
  • Chile powder guajillo ancho or a mixture
Photo courtesy of Cintia Soto
  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Step 2

    Lay the corn ears on a cutting board and halve them crosswise using a sharp knife so that you have 8 roughly equal-size segments. Cut the stem off the bottom of each of the 4 bottom segments. Stand each segment vertically (with the wider portion from which you just sliced off the stem on the cutting board). With each of the segments standing, slice down the middle, halving each. Lay each segment flat and, once again, slice down the middle of each, yielding 16 segments. Place the segments on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt. Roast until the corn is nicely charred and the “ribs” begin to curl, 18 to 20 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, combine the cheese, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, and chile powder to taste in a large bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. When the ribs are cooked, add them to the bowl and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and more chile powder, if needed. Serve immediately.