Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Until recently, I never thought to cook fresh corn just for myself. Why? The huge piles and the low prices seemed to suggest the purchase of a dozen ears, and what's a solo cook going to do with all that corn? As much as I love it, I have tended to reserve fresh corn for dinner parties or cookouts: slathered with sweetened coconut milk and grilled on the cob, or perhaps sliced off the cob and tossed into a salad.
But when a colleague put the corn-for-one challenge to me, I quickly saw the light. Like potatoes and eggs, fresh corn comes in a natural single-serving package. One ear yields about 3/4 cup, enough for a simple side dish or the makings of a main course, be it an open-faced omelet, a bowl of spicy Southwestern soup or a pasta "sauce."
The only caveat: It always tastes sweeter when it's fresher, before the sugars in the corn convert to starch.
As it turns out, just about any corn dish gets an extra boost of flavor from a broth made from everything that's left once you take off the kernels: the cobs, of course, but also the husks and even the silks. The result is a pure corn essence, which unlike fresh corn remains vibrant after refrigerating or freezing.
I'm still experimenting with my recent batches of corn broth. After using it to satisfying effect in the accompanying recipes, I am turning my mind to other possibilities, some savory, some sweet. I had a lovely corn ice cream at a restaurant the other day. Could I turn the broth into a single serving of corn sorbet?
-- Joe Yonan