This grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons uses up grilled corn on the cob leftovers from your weekend barbecues and those hard sourdough bread ends you didn’t finish. It’s a fantastic salad for spring picnics and summer barbecues and can also serve as a meal on its own.
My grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons and crumbs was conceived yesterday as I had some grilled corn on the cob leftovers, along with some lemongrass mayo, from the char-grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe I made the day before, and I was getting homesick and nostalgic for the corn salads of family barbecues in Sydney in the 1970s.
Terence also happened to have a crunchy end of near-stale sourdough bread as, avid sourdough baker that he is, he’s pulling homemade sourdough boules out of the oven every few days (if you’re new to sourdough baking, see his excellent easy sourdough beginner’s guide), so I asked him to make some sourdough croutons and crunchy toasted sourdough crumbs, which gave this fragrant grilled corn salad fantastic texture.
While this grilled corn salad is by no means traditional Cambodian food – it’s very much a fusion creation that is all at once Cambodian, Southeast Asian- and Mexican-inspired – I’m going to file it under Terence’s Cambodian barbecue recipe series, as it’s made from the leftovers of a dish for that series, partly inspired by the traditional Cambodian grilled corn, poat dot.
We won’t include this grilled corn salad recipe in the epic first-of-its-kind Cambodian cookbook and culinary history we’ve been working on for six years, as that’s focused on documenting traditional Cambodian recipes. (We’re still seeking patrons for that project on Patreon and you can support it for as little as the price of a cob of corn per month!) But we might just include it in our Cambodian street food cookbook.
Grilled Corn Salad Recipe With Lime, Chilli, Lemongrass Mayo and Sourdough Croutons
My grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons and crumbs takes its inspiration from the grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe that I just posted (link above) as it uses the leftover grilled corn on the cob and lemongrass mayo I had in the fridge.
That dish was partly inspired by the traditional Cambodian grilled corn brushed with a sweet sauce made from coconut milk and fish sauce called poat dot; a Cambodian street food snack of grilled corn on the cob with mayonnaise, lime and chilli; the Mexican grilled corn street food, elote; and other barbecued corn street food favourites sold everywhere from Spain and Greece to Turkey and Thailand.
This grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons was in turn inspired by an iteration of that grilled corn on the cob street food dish. When you buy that grilled corn on the streets of Mexico City, Bangkok or Phnom Penh, you have a choice as to whether you want to eat the corn straight off the cob or you want your corn in a cup, called elote en vaso in Mexico, or esquites, Mexican corn salad street-food style.
Reading about the Memorial Day holiday in the USA, which commemorates those who died serving in the armed forces, while marking the start of the North American summer beach season with barbecues with family and friends, I got a bit homesick and nostalgic for the family barbecues we often had on Sunday afternoons when I was growing up in Sydney in the 1970s.
My dad was responsible for the grilled corn. He’d remove the husks from the corn, chop the corn cobs in thirds, and, before wrapping each cob in foil, insert chunks of garlic butter – made from butter and finely chopped garlic and fresh parsley, which mum had made prepared and refrigerated. Dad would also do whole potatoes with garlic butter in foil, burying them deep into the burning barbecue coals.
After he’d done the steaks, sausages and onions, we’d pull the potatoes and corn cobs out, peel back the foil, and insert even more garlic butter and generous shakes of salt. We loved our barbecued corn. But when I think about it, my family had a thing about corn.
We’d have corn salad at barbecues, roasted corn on the cob with roast chicken or lamb, and there always seemed to be corn products in the cupboards: canned baby corn for Chinese stir-fries, tinned corn kernels for salads, cans of creamed corn for jaffles, popcorn, corn flakes… maybe it was a Seventies thing.
So along with the corn cobs in foil that dad did, a grilled corn salad was a barbecue staple – alongside mum’s Russian salads – a pink potato salad with beetroot, and a lettuce, tomato and onion salad tossed in vinegar and olive oil. I always helped mum with the salads and the corn salad was fairly free-wheeling, typically including combinations of corn, avocado, tomato, green or red capsicum, and/or beans, black beans, kidney beans or fava beans.
Sometimes dad would cut the corn kernels off the cobs right onto the barbecue hot plate and shift them back and forth with the metal spatula to char evenly, the same way he did to char and caramelise the onions. I also seem to recall using tinned corn kernels occasionally, which you too could do if you’re staying at home and self-isolating or corn isn’t in season.
There were usually barbecue leftovers of everything, and provided dad didn’t get up in the middle of the night and tuck into the foil-covered grill pan and polish them off, I’d take those to school in sandwiches or as a mixed salad combo in a Tupperware container, which I’d share with my class mates. No sharing now. How simple life was back then.
Notes on Making this Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
This grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons was made for using up any grilled corn on the cob or roasted corn cob leftovers you might have from family meals and barbecues. I was also thinking of our American readers when I created this recipe, as they might have Memorial Day holiday leftovers from their barbecues this weekend.
I love char-grilled corn, but you can also use roasted corn, corn done in foil in the coals, or even tinned corn if you’re still staying at home and self-isolating or it’s not in season. If you made my char-grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe (link above) and have leftovers, then this grilled corn salad recipe with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons and crumbs is too easy.
You just need to cut the corn kernels off the cobs, slicing from top to bottom, getting as close to the cob, the central core of the ear of corn, as you can. Slide them into a big bowl, add the remaining ingredients and combine. Then serve and garnish. See detailed instructions below.
If you’re grilling the corn cobs for the first time, try to grill them over an open flame. Since we’ve lived in Cambodia, Terence has done as the locals do and used a traditional clay brazier and coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes on the balcony. If we had more space, we’d be using one of these outdoor barbecue or grills. Now we have an extraction fan over the stove at our new apartment (and it’s been scorching hot outside), Terence has been grilling indoors using a stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan. As it was raining yesterday, I char-grilled my corn on the cob on our griddle pan on the stove.
Once you have some grilled corn on the cob, let them cool before cutting the kernels off the cobs. Then slide the corn kernels into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and combine well. Transfer the grilled corn salad to a serving dish, garnish with more fresh coriander sprigs, evenly sprinkle on a pinch of each of the chilli flakes, lemongrass powder and sesame seeds, and a teaspoon of toasted sourdough crumbs and croutons, and evenly distribute some dots of lemongrass mayonnaise on top. Pop some lime quarters in the corners of the plate or in a separate dish and provide serving spoons and smaller bowls. If you have more leftover lemongrass mayo, you could serve that in a dish as well.
We buy lemongrass powder and other ground herbs and spices from Siem Reap’s Old Market, however, we’re going to start making our own herb powders soon. If you’d like to make your own lemongrass powder, finely chop lemongrass stalks, spread the slices out on an oven tray covered with baking paper and bake on low heat until the lemongrass is dry and brittle. This could take around 60-90 minutes. Remove the tray and once the dried herbs have cooled down, grind the herbs to a powder in a mortar and pestle, spice mill, coffee grinder, or a blender. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.
How to Make Sourdough Croutons
To make the sourdough croutons – or croutons from any bread – chop the bread into small cubes, spread the cubes and any crumbs out on an oven tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with salt and paprika powder and a drizzle of olive oil. Shake the tray around to distribute the seasoning. Bake on low heat (150-160˚C) until they’re brown and crunchy. Remove the tray and allow them to cool.
I like a combination of croutons and toasted crumbs in this salad, so Terence popped some croutons into a cotton bag that he uses to keep his sourdough boules, and bashed it with a hammer to create the crumbs. Croutons and crumbs can also be store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.
Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
- 4 pieces corn cobs
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 tbsp coarse salt
- 120 g butter
- 4 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
- 2 pieces lime juiced
- 4 tbsp coriander chopped
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp lemongrass powder
- 4 tbsp toasted sourdough croutons/crumble see notes
- 2 tbsp lemongrass mayonnaise
- Remove the outer husks of each corn cob, leaving just 3-4 inner husks on the cob, then carefully peel the remaining husks right back, taking care not to pull them entirely off the cob.
- Remove the silky threads from each cob by wiping them off with a damp paper towel.
- Soak the corn cobs with remaining husks in a pot of water for 15 minutes.
- Heat up your barbecue, griddle or grill pan and add a tablespoon of oil, just enough to cover the surface.
- Dry the corn cobs completely with a dry paper towel, then place the corn cobs beside each other on the barbecue, griddle or grill pan. Season the cobs generously with coarse salt.
- Grill the corn until its slightly charred, then turn all cobs to char-grill the next side, then once they’re a little charred turn the cobs again until the corn is char-grilled. It should take around 15 minutes. In between turning, make the lemongrass mayonnaise.
- To make the lemongrass mayonnaise, add the creamy mayonnaise and lemongrass powder to a bowl, combine well, add to a serving dish, and sprinkle more lemongrass powder (see notes) on top. Return to fridge to keep cool.
- Once your corn is char-grilled on all sides, pull them off the stove and transfer to a chopping board to cool down.
- After the corn cobs have cooled, cut the kernels off the cobs, slicing from top to bottom as close to the cob, the inner core, as you can.
- Slide the corn kernels into a bowl the add the rest of the ingredients: squeeze two limes in, add the fish sauce (if you're not a fan of the funkiness of fish sauce, add half first, then taste, and add the rest little by little), then the dry ingredients, except the lemongrass mayonnaise.
- Combine well then transfer the grilled corn salad to a serving dish.
- Garnish with fresh coriander sprigs, sprinkle on a pinch of each of chilli flakes, lemongrass powder and sesame seeds, and a teaspoon of toasted sourdough crumbs and croutons.
- Evenly distribute some small blobs of lemongrass mayonnaise on top of the salad. Use a teaspoon or if you're a perfectionist, a piping bag.
- Pop some lime quarters in the corners of the serving plate or in a separate dish and provide serving spoons and smaller bowls. If you have more leftover lemongrass mayo, you could serve that in a side dish.
Please do let us know if you make this grilled corn with lime butter and lemongrass mayonnaise recipe or any others in our best Cambodian barbecue recipes series. We’d love to know how they turn out for you.