Corn is one of my favorite cereals. From grits to polenta to simply boiled sweet corn I can’t think of any dish made with this grain that I don’t enjoy. Many countries have their own versions of a national dish made with corn, but it is here in the Americas that I think people are the most creative. Think of tamales and tortillas from Mexico, angú and pamonha from Brazil, and bourbon from the United States. It is made into all sorts of cakes, breakfast cereals, and of course it comes popped at movie theatres. I’m not even talking about non edible products made with corn: plastics, explosives, and batteries!
I thank those Pre-Colombian Mexicans who developed and nurtured this grass!
Can we call corn natural anymore? Has it ever been? I understand that it’s continually being hybridized in labs even today and that it needs human intervention to reproduce. On its own, it would cease to exist. When the seed is ready someone has to break the ears off the plant, peel the husk back and remove the seed from the cob. Only then can it be sown in the ground to germinate into a new plant. Incredible, isn’t it? We’re eating a handicapped plant!
Today’s dish is inspired by to other corn recipes that I had before. The first was roasted corn on cob with Indian spices that we had last summer at our friends Suma and Tom’s country house in Sonoma. How lucky to be invited for the weekend by friends who have a country house! Tom grilled the corn to perfection then liberally flavored it with olive oil, salt, lime juice and a magical spice mix made by Suma’s mom. I could tell that the mix had a lot of hot chilies. It was fabulous! Give me salty, sour and hot flavors any time and I will be the happiest! My other corn inspiration comes from another friend, David. He invited us for BBQ and prepared roasted corn with sundried tomatoes. It was delicious. I am going to ask them for their original recipes to publish them here sometime.
So here is my inspired corn dish:
Roasted Sweet Corn Salad with Sundried Tomatoes
5 ears of sweet corn, husks removed
10 sundried tomato halves, oil packed, cut into strips
Juice from 3 limes
¼ tsp of cayenne pepper (for heat)
¼ tsp ancho pepper (for smokiness)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for greasing corn cobs
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the grill to high (400-500F). Grease sweet corn with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, grill for about 10-15 min turning a few times to roast evenly. Remove from grill. Let cool a bit, but not completely. Using a paring knife cut kernels off the cob. Discard cobs. Toss the rest of the above ingredients with the corn while still warm, adjust flavors and serve. This dish goes well with barbequed foods.
Please note that cayenne pepper can be very powerful depending on how old it is. As it gets older the flavor will mellow out a bit. New, it can be very spicy, so be careful. The dish is best with a little spicy kick. Enjoy it!