These days, the corn at the farmers market is so fresh, crisp and sweet that you can eat it right off the cob, uncooked, and often we do. Night after night, we feast on platters of quickly cooked corn, slathered with butter, or drizzled with olive oil, lemon and salt. When I’m lucky, there will be leftovers to sprinkle on salads, scatter atop pizza, whir into soups, toss with pasta, bake into cornbread and muffins, and churn into ice cream.
At the market, choose thick ears that feel firm and are heavy. Don’t strip back the husks to peek at the cob because this dries out the kernels. Plan to cook the corn as soon as possible as its flavor fades fast. Shucking corn is easy, but getting the wispy strands of silk off the cob is not. I’ve tried various techniques and found the quickest is to gently brush the husked cobs with a vegetable brush. Simply cook corn in a pot of rolling boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, drain and cover with a clean kitchen towel to serve hot.
After we’ve had our fill of corn on the cob, I turn to my grandmother’s creamed corn recipe, timeless and terrific. She’d stand the shucked cob upright in a big china bowl and use a paring knife to cut along the kernels as closely as possible, digging in to release all of that sweet corn milk from the cob. Then, in her cast-iron skillet, she’d sizzle a knob of butter, onion and corn kernels, then add a dash of cream. Served with a sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper, this is a dish of childhood joy.
This easy technique is a starting point for any number of variations. Try swapping out coconut cream for the dairy, a little fresh ginger, a drizzle of lime and you have a perfect side to any mixed grill. This is also great over rice topped with chicken or shrimp or tangled with rice noodles and served chilled. Set it out as an alternative to salsa with chips. But don’t wait! Corn is here now!