Food & Drink » Kitchen Witch

Corn, hold the cob

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My kid brother Tim liked to eat corn on the cob when he was a bald little boy. His 4-year-old blue eyes bright with excitement, he'd grab the cob that was almost bigger than his head and immediately begin attacking it, typewriter style. Left to right, his teeth would graze the kernels, and when he arrived at the end, he'd dramatically lift his head up and pause to the sound of an imaginary bell before he'd swing the lever to the left and continue "typing" onto the next line.

That's how we all ate corn in the summertime. Boiled, on the cob, with butter and salt. Like typewriters.

Not until seven years ago did the idea of eating corn off the cob even occur to me - unless, of course, it was coming from a frozen box. Imagine, no teeth picking but all the sweet summery kernel-y freshness intact. That's when I tasted cobless corn salad prepared by my friend Susan McCreight Lindeborg, chef of Majestic Cafe in Alexandria, Va. The corn kernels get a quick blanch (that means about 30 seconds in boiling water, followed by a cold water rinse). Then you can season however you wish - with herbs, a hefty hand of spices, the heat of chiles, a spritz of lime. The following recipe is a guideline; see what kind of cobless corn salad you come up with.

Make-Up-As-You-Go-Along Corn SaladFor 2 ears of corn (estimate 1 per person), add the following:

1 small handful basil leaves, torn (alternatively, use flat parsley or cilantro)

1/2 medium sweet or red onion, diced

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small handful small tomatoes (cherry, grape, pear varieties work nicely), sliced in half

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (or, 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Salt and black pepper to taste

Husk corn thoroughly, including interior silk. Snap off ends if necessary to create a flat edge. With corn standing upright, place edge of sharp, wide-edged knife against kernels and slice from top to bottom, allowing kernels to fall. In a small saucepan, boil a few inches of water. Add kernels and cook for about 30 seconds. Drainover a strainer and rinse under cold water. In a medium bowl, add kernels and the rest of the ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon as you proceed, tasting for intensity of spices and salt. Season until satisfied. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or as part of a larger vegetarian plate. Keeps one day covered in the fridge.Culinary questions? Reach CL's Kitchen Witch at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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