Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fresh Corn

Yesterday I slid a knife down the side of a cob of corn and then held the cob up to my nose to smell it. Have you ever done this? The cob has the most delicious scent, like fresh yeasty bread. You can only smell it after you cut the kernels off. The outside of the corn smells good too, fresh and sweet, especially in the peak season. But the inside - wow! Bottle that scent.

So that's why corn off the cob tastes better than frozen corn kernels. But the cob is so flavorful that it's used to add depth to soups and custards before discarding. Unlike a banana peel, useless after removal, the cob seems a waste to just throw away.

I know it's funny to write about corn in the middle of winter, but when the temperature drops into the single digits yet again, I need a reminder of summer. I used to roll my eyes at recipes that called for fresh corn, resorting to my trusty staple of frozen corn for all recipes. They're not bad, but they don't have the milky sweet taste of fresh, which can be eaten raw or just barely cooked. You can't go wrong if you serve them because they require so little effort. But if you want a recipe, try this. Cut up some bacon (about 1 strip per corn cob) and fry it with some chopped scallions. Cut the fresh kernels off the cob and sprinkle them with chili powder, then add to the bacon and scallions and saute for just a minute or two. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

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