The Washington Post

Microwaving corn in the husk: Smooth as silk?

In the summer, I can’t think of a better side than fresh corn on the cob. I don’t do anything fancy. No butter, no salt, no sauce (although I might have to break down and try our recipe for Cambodian Grilled Corn). Most of the time, I shuck an ear and toss it in the microwave. This usually involves me standing over the trash can, struggling to pull off all the silk and then giving up in frustration.

But could there be a better way? A Friend of Food on our weekly chat pointed us to this YouTube video.

So when another chatter asked us last week whether the microwave would indeed solve the silk problem — “It sounds suspicious to me for some reason!” — I knew I had a quest to complete. I only hoped Ken wouldn’t let me down.

Ken recommended eight minutes in the 'wave for two ears. I wanted to experiment with one at a time, so the first subject went in for 4 minutes. It wasn't too different from heating already shucked corn, except for the strong floral aroma emanating from the husk and silk. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

The corn, after its spin in the sauna. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

Ken warned that the corn would be H-O-T hot coming out of the microwave. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

So hot, in fact, it insisted on steaming up my camera lens. But you can still make out my dog in the upper-left corner looking very interested in this process. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

I went through a good bit of shaking while trying to get the cob to slip free of the husk and silk. Eventually I just decided to peel them away. The result was relatively clean — some silk, but not nearly as much as I usually have left. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

I went through the whole rigmarole again with a second ear. I can't explain why, but as you can see, it was less successful. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

The next evening, to be totally scientific — or roughly scientific, anyway — I went with my typical preparation, husking the corn before cooking it. There was no comparison. I couldn’t get the same amount of silk off as I did with Ken’s strategy, which even with imperfect results is a winner. I found it easier to remove the cooked husk and silk than their raw counterparts. Case closed.

Becky Krystal covers food for the Going Out Guide and Weekend and Food sections. In her spare time she loves to, of course, eat and cook.


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