BIT ABOUT CORN
Corn is a native of the Americas, believed to have been part
of the diet of pre-historic man. It was the chief staple of
the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan diets, and was brought to Europe
by Columbus in 1496. Early North American colonists were not
only introduced to corn by Native Americans, but also learned
many ways to prepare it that are still in use today, including
cornbread, succotash, and corn fritters. Corn is still a staple
of Central and South American and Caribbean cuisine.
Corn is familiar to us in its natural state
as corn on the cob, as well as being sold as corn kernels,
cornmeal, grits, and flour (masa harina). Corn chips and tortillas
have become common components of American diets. For many,
the long-awaited first serving of freshly picked corn-on-the-cob
is a summer rite in itself.
Corn is healthy food, loaded with vitamin A
and significant quantities of potassium,
phosphorus, and calcium. A source of carbohydrates, it only
has 70 calories per cup.
Corn-on-the-cob can be boiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted,
in or out of the husks. Corn kernels lend themselves to salads,
sidedishes (hot or cold), chowders, relishes, casseroles,
and vegetable mixes. Fritters, polenta, muffins, cakes, breads,
and puddings round out its usefulness, and these are only
the beginning. (Lets not forget popcorn!) In short,
corn is used around the world in innumerable, innovative ways.
When choosing corn, look for very green husks with dark silks.
A slightly damp husk is good; a dried-out husk indicates corn
thats been off the plant for a while, as does a stem
that is looking rusty. The kernels should be plump and even,
and, depending on the variety, may be white, yellow, gold,
or a mixture of any of these. Personal preference is the key
to which of these may be considered the best. More important
is the freshness of the corn because its sugars begin to turn
to starch upon picking, and flavor is compromised over time.
Store the ears, unshucked, in the refrigerator
until read to cook. When cooking in water, do not add salt,
as it will toughen the kernels. Some cooks recommend starting
the corn in a pot full of cold water, and when it begins to
boil, covering the pot and cooking it one minute more. Others
start with a small amount of boiling water, add the corn,
cover and cook for 5 minutes. Steam corn over boiling water
for about 5 minutes.
To cut kernels from the cob, stand an ear of
corn upright on a plate and carefully slice beneath the rows
in a steady downward motion. Cutting raw kernels will yield
a milky juice that is worth catching and saving to add to
the dish you are preparing. You may wish to express more juice
from the cob by running the back of the knife blade down the
length of the cob over a bowl or plate. If the corn is precooked,
the kernels will cut off easily and not lose their liquid.
Follow the directions in the recipe for cutting the kernels
from the cob either raw or pre-cooked.
SOME CORNY RECIPES
TO TRY AT HOME
Fresh Chili Corn Relish
6 large ears of corn OR 6 cups frozen corn kernels,
2 Tbs. corn oil
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
6 scallions, trimmed and cut into thin slices
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup lime juice
Steam the ears of corn for 3-5 minutes, then
cut the kernels from the ears. If using frozen corn, thaw
to room temperature.
In a large saucepan or skillet, warm the oil.
Add the chili powder and simmer gently until the chili powder
foams, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, scallions, and garlic
and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring gently to coat all
the vegetables with the chili powder. Add the corn kernels
and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and add
the lime juice, tossing gently to mix. Serve at room temperature
or chill first.
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Browned Onion And Corn Pilaf
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
½ cup unconverted long-grain rice
1 tsp. salt
In a heavy saucepan cook the onion and the corn in the
butter over moderately high heat, stirring, until the vegetables
are browned. Add the rice, stir the mixture until the rice
is coated with the butter, and stir in 1 cup water and the
salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring, and cook the
pilaf, covered, over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, or until
the liquid is absorbed.
-Gourmet, April 1990
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Sweet and Spicy Corn Salad
Makes 12 servings
5 cups raw corn kernels cut from about
8 to 10 large ears OR 5 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1 sweet red pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into thin, 1-inch
1 green pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into thin, 1-inch
2 small jalapeño peppers, seeded, deribbed, and finely
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp. dried
¼ tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Steam the fresh corn kernels until just
tender, about 3 minutes. If using frozen corn, thaw to room
temperature but do not steam.
In a large bowl, combine the corn with
the peppers and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together
the vinegar, brown sugar, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture and toss to combine.
Serve the salad at room temperature, or refrigerate it for
at least one hour and serve it well chilled.
-Fresh Ways with Salads, Time-Life Books
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3 Tbs. butter
2 cups cooked corn kernels (cut from 4 to 6 ears)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
½ cup purchased salsa
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over
medium-high heat. Add corn, red bell pepper, zucchini, green
onions and jalapeño and sauté until vegetables
are tender, about 6 minutes. Mix in salsa and chopped cilantro.
Stir until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste
with salt and pepper.
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Mango, Jicama And Corn Salad
6 ears fresh corn
6 small mangoes, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped
2 pounds jicama, peeled, chopped
1 cup chopped red onion
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
½ cup fresh lime juice
Cook corn in pot of boiling salted water
2 minutes. Drain and cool corn. Cut off enough kernels to
measure 4 cups (reserve remaining corn for another use). Place
corn in medium bowl. Add mangoes, jicama, red onion, cilantro
and lime juice. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt
and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (Can be prepared
3 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Serve cold.
-Bon Appétit, June 1996
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Crab Salad with Spinach and Corn
1 cup fresh corn kernels cut from 1 to 2 large ears OR 1
cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
½ lb. fresh spinach, stemmed and washed
1 lb. crab meat or sea legs
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
¼ cup creamy yogurt dressing (see below)
Steam corn until just tender, about 3 minutes. If using frozen
corn, thaw but do not cook. Dry the spinach and cut into thin
strips. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, crab meat or sea legs,
tomato and vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30
Shortly before assembling the salad, whisk together the yogurt
dressing and add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Pour the dressing
over the salad and toss well. Garnish with spinach, mix lightly,
and serve immediately.
Creamy Yogurt Dressing
Makes about ¼ cup
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup plain non-fat yogurt
1½ tsp. non-fat sour cream
pinch white pepper
Mix all ingredients well. Will keep in the
refrigerator for 2-3 days.
-adapted from Fresh Ways with Salads, Time-Life Books
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