What is it?
Chipotle in adobo is a rich, smoky, spicy Mexican sauce (adobo) of smoke-dried, ripe jalapeno chillies (chipotle). It's as hot as hell and as smoky as an ashtray, in a good way.
Blended with sour cream or mayonnaise and lime, at present it's seen around town slathered on sweet summer corn - an idea worth pinching for the home barbecue.
Where is it?
The craze for grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayo started at Mamasita in Collins Street, where ''elotes callejeros'' have sold their socks off since day one three years ago. Chef Scott Eddington says they can go through up to 300 cobs in a day, each one charred on the grill, brushed with chipotle mayonnaise and coated with grated kefalograviera cheese. ''It's the smokiness of the chipotle in adobo that makes it a real eye-opener,'' he says.
There's barbecued corn with chipotle mayo at Paco's Tacos in Bourke Street, too, while at the Black Toro in Glen Waverley, the grilled corn with chipotle mayo is topped with toasted masa. Chef Garen Maskal is a big fan of chipotle in adobo. ''It's insanely good,'' he says. ''It makes everything taste better.''
At Touche Hombre in the city, Josh Cunningham makes a barbecue sauce with chipotle in adobo and honey to spice up the chicken tostaditos. ''It's hot,'' he says, ''but the mayo smooths it out so you can take it.''
In Narrabeen, beachside diner Mexicano sellsas many cobs of corn with chipotle mayonnaise, salty cheese, smoked spice and lime as it does frozen margaritas, and at El Topo rooftop tacqueria in Bondi Junction, the charred sweetcorn comes with pumpkin seed, chipotle mayo and queso fresco (fresh cheese).
"Everyone loves the hot, smoky flavours of chipotle," says head chef Matt Fitzgerald, who makes his own queso fresco in-house. "You have to stop yourself from adding it to everything".
Chipotle in adobo is also used to marinate pork and flank steak for the burritos at Sydney's ubiquitous Guzman Y Gomez Mexican outlets, and in Chinatown's The Dip at Goodgod, chipotle mayo is all over the thick-cut fries, in the fried chicken burger and piped over the smoked kosher hotdog in the classic Lev's Dawg.
Why do I care?
The deep, dense smokiness is as addictive as - oh dear - smoking.
Can I do it at home?
Easy. Get yourself a can of chipotle in adobo or make your own from chipotles (smoke-dried jalapeno chillies), roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic and oregano.
■ Mamasita, level 1, 11 Collins Street, city, (03) 9650 3821
■ Paco's Tacos, rear, level 1, 500 Bourke Street, city, (03) 9663 3038
■ The Black Toro, 79 Kingsway, Glen Waverley, (03) 9561 9696
■ Touche Hombre, corner Lonsdale Street and Tattersalls Lane, city, (03) 9663 0811
To buy chipotle in adobo:
■ Aztec Mexican Foods, 8A Adina Court, Tullamarine, (03) 9330 1733
■ Casa Iberica, 25 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, (03) 9419 4420
■ Mexicano, 209 Ocean Street, Narrabeen, (02) 9970 8975
■ El Topo, The Eastern Hotel, 500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, (02) 8383 5959
■ Guzman Y Gomez, various locations
■ Goodgod/The Dip, 55 Liverpool Street, city, (02) 8084 0587
To buy chipotle in adobo:
■ The Essential Ingredient, 731 Darling Street, Rozelle, (02) 9555 8300
Recipe: Grilled corn with chipotle mayo
4 to 6 corn cobs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 lime, quartered
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo
75g whole egg mayonnaise or aioli
75g sour cream
1 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and pepper
1. Remove the husks and silks from the corn (or pull back the husks to form a ponytail handle). Cook in simmering salted water for 20 minutes or until tender, then drain well.
2. To make the mayo, whiz the chipotle, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, oregano, sea salt and pepper in a blender until creamy.
3. When ready to eat, heat the barbecue or grill. Cut each cob in half, brush with olive oil, season and cook over medium heat until nicely charred. Roll each corn cob in the mayo, dust with parmesan and paprika and serve with lime wedges.
Photo styling: Jill Dupleix