Ingredient Of The Week: Making The Very Best Of The Very Last Of The Summer Corn

October 11, 2011 


by Claire Lassam | My grandfather is not a picky eater. As product of the Great Depression, he will eat just about anything without fuss. But he is fussy about corn. He grows it in his backyard and when dinner is entirely cooked and the pot of water is at a roaring boil, he goes out into the and picks it himself. Then, and only then, does he cook it. It doesn’t cook for very long, and when it’s done he pulls it out and slathers it with butter (the only thing I’ve ever seen him slather butter on, likely again a Depression habit). And then we eat it. That’s just how it’s done.

That corn was so good, so fresh, so sweet, and so flavourful. It is, to this day, the best corn I’ve ever had. It might even be my favourite vegetable. And I think I’m not alone in that because BC produces 18 million kilos of corn every year. Living in Vancouver, when we think of corn we naturally think of Chilliwack, but it does grow all over southern BC.

When I started working in restaurants I realized that there were other ways of cooking corn. It was a small revelation to me, to have it any other way besides boiled with butter. I’ve had it grilled in tacos, baked in popovers, creamed and sauteed. I’ve fallen in love with succotash, and I’ve become enamoured with corn chowder. And man, do I ever have a crush on cornbread! If I’m being honest here I’m not sure I’ve ever really had any preparation of corn that I haven’t liked.

So where can you get the best corn in the city? La Taqueria has a creamed corn taco, the sweetness of which does a little dance with poblano peppers and Mexican cheese. I haven’t tried the corn ice cream at West yet, but pastry chef Rhonda Viani has yet to do wrong by me. And, of course, Hawksworth has it on their tasting menu with halibut cheeks. They have kindly given us the recipe, which is – surprisingly – so easy (the corn, if not the halibut if you are familiar with sous vide) that you can make it at home and enjoy a final taste of summer as the leaves fall around you.

The Farmers Market is definitely where you’ll snag the sweetest and juiciest pieces, but most green grocers in the city are selling it still. Just look for plump pieces with the kernels still full all the way to the tip. Work the recipe after the jump…

Halibut cheeks, summer corn fricassee, olive oil | Serves 4

Summer Corn Fricasse

2 Cobs of Corn
2 Pieces Jerusalem Artichokes
2 Roma Tomatoes
1T Butter
TT Salt

-Roast corn in husk in a 350 degree oven
-Cool, remove husk and cut kernels from cob, reserve
-Sunchoke dice and slow sweated in butter until tender, approximately 8 mins, cooled and reserved
-Roma Tomatoes, boiled and peeled, seeds removed, and then small diced
-When ready to serve, place butter in a pan and add all three vegetable cuts to heat thoroughly
-Season with salt and serve immediately

Halibut Cheeks

4 x 3oz pieces of halibut
2L Water
150ml Salt
75ml Sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 sprig tarragon
1T black peppercorn

Warm water, sugar and salt in a small pot and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat.
Add lemon zest, tarragon, and black peppercorn and cool in the fridge.
Once cooled add in the halibut cheeks and let cure in the liquid for 2 hours.

-Remove and rinse with cold water and place tightly sealed in Cryovac bag.*
-Cook sous vide in water bath at 56C for 8 mins.*
-Remove from bag and slice
-Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with chives
-Serve immediately

To Plate

Place vegetables in bottom of bowl, place sliced halibut cheeks over top and a few arugula leaves and drizzle liberally with a good quality olive oil.

*I’m betting that you could brine the halibut cheeks and then simmer them in olive oil to similar effect if you don’t do cryovac/sous vide at home.

Claire Lassam is a baker, blogger, and freelance writer based in East Van. She has been cooking and baking her way through the city for nearly five years, working in restaurants ranging from Cioppino’s to Meat & Bread. She currently toils at the soon-to-open Cadeaux Bakery in Railtown and runs the baking blog  Just Something Pretty.