Five ways with sweetcorn, from martinis to cornbread

Best when fresh from the husk, this autumnal crop is great for both savoury and sweet dishes.

This article was adapted from National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Sweetcorn is a type of maize that’s naturally high in sugar. Unlike other types, which are left longer in the fields to dry out, it’s harvested young. This means it’s juicier when it comes into season, and has a flavour that’s far superior to tinned or frozen corn.

Cook the corn when it’s as fresh as possible, as the sugars begin to turn to starch once it’s been picked. Always try to buy fresh corn while still in the husk — choose firm, bright green husks that cling tightly around the corn. If you can see the kernels, they should be smooth and plump, while a white, milk-like liquid coating the sweetcorn is a sign that it’s very fresh. 

We became aware of the versatility of corn during our first pop-up event back in 2019, when we were serving smoked beef ribs as a first course and needed a vegan alternative. That’s where Fallow’s signature corn ribs were born. Everyone loved them so much that by the end of the event we were only serving the corn ribs! 

1. Charred corn relish
Grill your corn over charcoal and then allow to cool. Cut the corn off the cob and mix with herbs and citrus for a crunchy, sweet, smoky accompaniment to other barbecue dishes.

2. Soft serve/ice cream
Use the incredible natural sweetness of corn to make an exciting dessert. Incorporate a smooth corn puree into your ice-cream base mix, then pass it through a sieve before churning and freezing.

3. Cornbread
Blanch the corn in water then strain it and cook it down with butter until it’s completely soft. Add some cream and blend it to make smooth creamed corn. Use this as the base to make some delicious cornbread.

4. Cornstar martini
Blanch then dehydrate your kernels in the oven, then slowly boil them with a simple syrup. Infuse this corn syrup into vodka for background sweetness. Then use in the style of your favourite martini.

5. Corn ribs
This is the signature snack on our menu: whole corn cobs, cut in half then each half cut into quarters, fried and covered in kombu seaweed seasoning. A squeeze of fresh lime completes the dish.

Jack Croft and Will Murray are chef patrons of Fallow, London. 

Published in Issue 17 (autumn 2022) of Food by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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