It is past the Fourth of July so in the Midwest the corn should be knee high. However, on either coast it is shucking season. You know the time of year when the fine silky hairs of corn litter the kitchen floor, or you spy your Dad, alone on the back porch, cleaning the corn. Yes, this is one of the iconic vegetables of the sun baked days of summer, and seems to figure into every cookout throughout our land. For now, lets just deal with corn-on-the-cob.
Everywhere I look I now see white and bi-colored varieties – which is great for salads and eating raw. Corn (the word comes from the German for cereal) older varieties, okay the yellow corn I had as a child, would start converting its sugars to starch once harvested. Hence, my Mom would cook her corn in a mix of water and milk with sugar to sweeten it, and for at least 20minutes! Today the newer hybrids retain their tender sweetness much longer, and I have taken to eating them raw or very quickly cooked. Though I do seek out the old fashion yellow corn on occasion for I like to puree it, and use it as a natural thickener in chowders and creamed corn.
When buying corn you must fondle the entire cob making sure it has a good girth. Inspect the tassel (the silky hairs at the top) they should be damp. Not decomposing nor should they be dry – these are signs of days off the stalk or miles trekked before it got to you. The habit we all have of stripping down some of corn’s husks is really not necessary if it felt firm and full it will be. The worm that may be having its dinner can very easily be at the bottom – hey, we all need to eat.
Grilled Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad - yields approx. 6 to 8 servings
4 ears of Corn - as fresh as possible
1/2 pound Sugar Snap Peas - cut in 1/3’s
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion - diced
5 scallions - roots discarded, then chopped
1 chili - diced such as Serrano or Jalapeno
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
Salt and pepper
Peel the husks from the corn and remove on of the silky hairs. On a very hot grill cook the corn to blister and lightly char. Carefully cut the corn kernels from the cob.
Heat a 2 quart sauce pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion, scallions and chili cooking until the onions become translucent. Add in the cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the sugar snap peas and cook for a minute to just shake-off the rawness of the peas. Remove from the heat and mix with the corn and red wine vinegar, parsley, mint and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold.
Corn-ade – yields 2 quarts
6 corn cobs (corn kernels used for another dish)
1/2 cup sugar
3 limes – juiced
In a 4-quart saucepan bring 9 cups of water to the boil with the corn cobs and sugar. Cover the pot and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes on a very low heat. Remove from the heat and allow the liquid to cool – about 15 minutes. Remove the cobs and stir in the lime juice. Chill the corn limeade completely and serve in tall glasses over ice.