Get the idea: Sweetcorn inspiration
One of the first examples of gastronomical writing (in the modern sense of the study of food with regards to its history, sociology and anthropology) I encountered was Margaret Visser’s excellent 1986 book, Much Depends On Dinner. The History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal. She dedicated a chapter to the gastronomy of the ingredients used in a typical American meal. One of them was corn on the cob. This chapter explains its history, and the importance of corn to the American way of life (and probably ours too). Visser explains that everything in an American supermarket has been touched by corn in some way. The only possible exception was fresh fish but that was probably wrapped in paper made with corn. Her explanation for this widespread use of corn is that modern corn production happened at the same time as North Americans were participating in technological and industrial advances. One of the most readily available commodities suited for use in many of these advances was corn.
Corn or maize is an ancient crop, developed about 5000 years ago by people who turned small kernel bearing grasses into the giant cob-bearing plant we know as sweet corn. Corn is a summer treat and here are a few ways to enjoy it.
Steam or barbecue whole cobs of sweet corn and serve well smeared with mayo, hot chilli sauce, freshly grated parmesan and lime juice.
Bake a savoury pastry tart case blind until starting to brown. Make a filling of lots of boiled corn kernels shaved from the cobs, beaten egg, diced bacon, fried onions, fresh thyme leaves and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Grate tasty cheese on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until well set and puffed up. Serve in wedges with green salad.
Put a finely chopped red onion, juice of a lime and a thinly sliced red chilli into a small saucepan. Cover with water by 3cm. Bring to the boil and boil until almost all the water has evaporated. Cool and add lots of shaved boiled corn kernels, chopped coriander and plenty of freshly diced pineapple. Add sugar, lime juice and salt so that the sweet, sour and salty flavours are balanced. Serve the salsa with barbecued chicken or pork.
Mix a couple of tablespoons of tahini into a cup of plain unsweetened yoghurt. Taste and season with salt and lemon juice. Reserve. Fry some flour-dusted fillets of fish and serve in warm pita bread with the yoghurt sauce, coriander, thinly sliced red onion and cucumber, and lots of shaved barbecued corn kernels.
Place baby cos leaves in wide glasses or bowls. Pile on shaved boiled corn kernels, a little grated carrot and top with poached Australian prawns. Add a dollop of mayo, lime juice, hot chilli sauce and toasted cumin seeds and serve as a corn prawn cocktail.
Place boneless chicken thighs, toasted coriander seeds, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and extra virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl and mix well. Spread the thighs out on a shallow oven tray lined with baking paper, add quartered corn cobs, zucchini sliced 2cm thick, black olives and sliced red capsicum. Place in a 200C oven for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables browned. Serve with lemon wedges.
Make a savoury Japanese custard with 4 beaten eggs mixed with 2 ½ cups instant dashi stock. Put shaved boiled corn kernels, thin sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, a little soy sauce and mirin, chopped watercress and sliced prawns into small bowls. Cover with the custard, cover each bowl with foil and steam for 20 minutes over moderate heat. Eat with a spoon as a first course.
Make fried rice with leftover rice. Stir-fry diced ham, sliced spring onions, shaved boiled corn kernels, lots of finely chopped garlic and ginger and thawed frozen peas until hot and just cooked. Add cold rice, a splash of Japanese soy sauce and chopped coriander. Mix well and serve with a thinly sliced, cold, chilli and coriander omelette and Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Corn fritters are an eternal favourite. Make a batter with beaten eggs, a little flour and baking powder. Add toasted cumin seeds, lots of chopped coriander, a finely chopped red onion, boiled shaved corn kernels and diced bacon. Fry in olive oil until well browned and cooked through. Serve with sour cream, sliced avocado, hot chilli sauce and lime halves for squeezing.
Pan-fry pork mince with lots of chopped ginger and garlic and plenty of shaved boiled corn kernels until the pork is browned. Add a splash of fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, thinly sliced red chilli and mint and coriander