Baby Corn with Chicatana Ant, Coffee, and Chile Costeño Mayonnaise

A recipe by Enrique Olvera, taken from Mexico from the Inside Out

(Elotitos con mayonesa de hormiga chicatana, café y chile costeño)

Serves 4

Ingredients for baby corn

4 ears baby corn with husks
4 6-inch (15 cm) bamboo skewers

Ingredients for chile costeño powder

3 dried chiles costeños, seeded
Chicatana Ant Powder
1/2 cup (45 g) chicatana ants

Ingredients for chicatana ant, coffee, and chile costeño mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 cup (240 ml) safflower oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp fresh key lime juice
2 tbsp cold espresso
2 tbsp Chicatana Ant Powder
1 tbsp Chile Costeño Powder


1 lek
Corn husks, dried and lightly toasted in the oven

Method for baby corn

Grill (griddle) the ears of corn on a griddle over medium heat, turning occasionally, until the husks are blackened and burned.

Remove from the heat and peel off the husks; reserve the last layer (the most tender and therefore the most flexible one) to tie around the lower part of the ears of corn.

Thread each ear of corn onto a skewer and tie the reserved layer around accordingly.

Method for chile costeño powder

Put the chiles on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour in a 200°F (90°C/Gas Mark 0) oven. Let cool. Grind.

Method for chicatana ant powder

In a skillet, toast the ants over medium heat for 5 minutes. Let cool. Grind.

Method for chicatana ant, coffee, and chile costeño mayonnaise

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolk. 

Add the salt, then slowly drizzle in the safflower and grapeseed oils while whisking constantly. Add the lime juice and continue whisking to a smooth emulsion.

Mix in the espresso, chicatana ant powder, and chile costeño powder. Adjust the salt.


Fill the lek with the corn husks. In a skillet, heat the baby corn over medium heat for 5 minutes. Coat the corn with the chicatana ant, coffee, and chile costeño mayonnaise. Place the ears inside the gourd.

Fill a smoking gun with corn husks, smoke the inside of the gourd, and cover it.

Mexico From the Inside Out

Enrique Olvera is the most famous and celebrated Mexican chef working today. Olvera's restaurant Pujol was ranked #1 in Mexico and #20 in the world at the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards. This is his first book and the first ever high-end chef cookbook in English on Mexican cuisine. It captures and presents a new contemporary Mexican style of food, rooted in tradition but forward thinking in its modern approach. Olvera has pioneered and defined this new way of cooking and belongs to a global group of gourmet influencers that includes Noma's René Redzepi, Dom's Alex Attala, Osteria Francescana's Massimo Bottura and elBulli's legendary Ferran Adrià.

Olvera rethinks how to use traditional, authentic local ingredients using unusual flavor combinations to create a reinvented way of cooking and eating. Mexico from the Inside Out includes both sophisticated and more accessible recipes to explain Enrique's philosophy, vision, and process. He is fueled by a constant exploration of Mexico's ingredients and culinary history, and inspired by his early family memories about food. This book goes beyond stereotypes to reveal new possibilities of Mexican cuisine, which is now an essential part of the international conversation about gastronomy.