Saturday, September 02, 2006

corn season is almost over!

I want to post this recipe for Corn with Ginger while there's still summer corn available. It's from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, which I can't recommend highly enough. I've never been disappointed with any of the recipes I've prepared from it, and it also has incredibly helpful information about basic preparations for just about any vegetable or grain you can think of. This recipe is one of my favorites — aside from being delicious, it's healthy and really easy to make. It's highly seasoned so you could probably use frozen or canned corn without feeling cheated, but as long as there's still fresh local corn by all means use that.

Corn + ginger stir-fry

Before the recipe, a brief note to those people who peel back the tops of the ears of corn at the market: Stop that! What exactly are you looking for, anyhow? If you are looking to see whether there are any creepy-crawlies, or whether the kernels are nice-looking, the top inch or two of the ear is not going to be dispositive. Exposing it, however, will dry out and ruin the entire ear. Bad, very bad. "Exposing the kernels to the air simply dries them and accelerates the conversion of sugars to starch that begins when the ear is harvested." In other words, you are prematurely aging the corn. I'm sure my readers would never do such a senseless thing, so let's move on!

Jaffrey notes that this recipe is "surprisingly good over a bowl of steaming polenta (corn over corn, yes, but very good) or stuffed into pita bread. It goes well with dried bean dishes and green vegetables. The corn may also be served cold, as a salad." I have always meant to try it with polenta, but somehow I end up making rice instead. This time I used a new find, a mixture of basmati rice and green and yellow lentils that I got at Dowel, my local Indian grocer. If you want to try making your own blend I think it's about 2/3rds rice and 1/3 lentils. (Any lentil that cooks in 20-30 minutes should work, and it's nice to add a bay leaf or a couple of lightly-crushed cardamom pods to the pot).

rice + lentils

Corn with Ginger

[comments in brackets are from me]

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) peeled and chopped very ripe tomatoes or canned tomatoes with a little of their juice [red or orange tomatoes are visually the nicest with the corn; this time I used a yellow summer squash because I'd eaten all my tomatoes]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups (1 pound) corn kernels taken from 3 to 4 ears of freshly shucked corn (preferably Silver Queen), frozen defrosted corn kernels, or canned drained corn kernels
  • 1 fresh hot green chile, finely chopped (optional) [I used a jalapeño]
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro [I didn't have any this time but I did have scallions that needed to be used]

Put the oil in a medium frying pan or sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot put in the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Stir in the ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Put in the tomatoes and stir for 5 minutes, letting the tomatoes reduce slightly. Add the salt, sugar, corn, and optional green chile. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring now and then, for 5 minutes, or until the corn is just done. Finally, add the cilantro and toss to mix well. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.


  1. amen sister!
    whenever i see people peeling back the husks on corn, it sends me into a blind rage, i grab the nearest pint box of slightly mooshie tomatoes and lob them at the evildoers (actually, i don't do this because my mother raised a proper lady, but i do wish i could!)

  2. Ann, that would be very satisfying indeed! I would like to do the same to the people who get really greedy with the samples, too - ugh.

  3. carolita10:26 PM

    Please allow me to suggest one more ingredient that would make this dish into something quite jubilant-looking: beets. I often cook something almost identical, but with some cut up beets thrown.

    It turns the rice a beautiful pink, and anything green and yellow nestled in it stands out beautifully against it! Try it, I guarantee it'll be great. I use the vacuum packed beets from Fairway, and my Mom uses beets from a jar. (I like mine better!) Also, I don't mind using frozen organic corn in the winter... It's quite good, though not as good as fresh, in season.

  4. Thanks Carolita -
    Beets would be very good in this - I do love both their taste and their look and I don't cook them enough. I recently read about vacuum packed beets on Apartment Therapy: the Kitchen - I must try them!

  5. Anonymous7:22 PM

    "In other words, you are prematurely aging the corn. I'm sure my readers would never do such a senseless thing, so let's move on!"

    - It's corn...