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The lime, prized for both its juice and its zest, has soothed thirst and saved lives.

Without limes, the tart margarita and mojito cocktails would be pale-tasting pretenders.

The fruit is key to Indian, Mexican and Thai cuisines, prized for its bracing tang in drinks, sauces and squeezed over noodle dishes and tacos. It also is used as a marinade to "cook" fresh fish for Mexican ceviche.

Native to Southeast Asia or India, the lime was first brought to the West by British explorers. It thrived in the Caribbean, in more humid climates than lemon trees would tolerate. Limes sold in the United States today mostly hail from Mexico, since Florida lime groves were destroyed by hurricane and citrus canker.

Ahoy, limey: In the late ?1700s, the British Navy was losing more sailors to the disease scurvy than enemy fire. British naval doctors didn't know scurvy was caused by a vitamin C deficiency, but they did learn it ?could be prevented ?by eating citrus fruit. Ordered to drink ?lime juice every day, British soldiers were nicknamed "limeys."

In this recipe, ?by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of SeriousEats.com., fresh lime ?juice perks up a warm corn salad with Mexican flavors. Kernels ?of fresh corn are sauteed over ?high heat to caramelize some of the natural sugars. If you do it right, you'll find that wet corn ?can pop, too.

agalarneau@buffnews.com

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>Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 ounces feta or cotija cheese, finely crumbled

1/2 cup finely sliced scallion greens

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 jalapeņo pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped

1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime

Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat ?until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and ?charring until well charred all ?over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add mayonnaise, feta, ?scallions, cilantro, jalapeņo, ?garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt ?and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately.

On the Web: Watch Andrew make Mexican corn salad at video.buffalonews.com/player