One of the things I love about this time of year is abundant sweet corn. It is like dessert. And, it is lovely and easy to prepare. Kids love it, too. Not my kids, unfortunately. But it is my understanding that all other kids on the planet do. I’m hoping mine come around soon. In the meantime, I will spend the summer giving them opportunities to change their minds. My usual method of preparing corn is to absolutely drown it in butter and then apply a ton of salt and pepper and then set about dribbling it all down my clothing and getting it stuck in my teeth. I will not wholly abandon this approach but I want to share a recipe that a friend gave me because it is, well, exceptional. It is exceptional in its taste and its simplicity.
We have a wonderful friend named Tina Stansbury. She can cook her head off. Once when we visited her home she served this corn dish and I watched in amazement as she prepared it because there is nothing whatsoever to it. Yet, it is one of the best corn dishes I have ever eaten. It is wonderful at room temperature and can be used as a side dish or even a salad, I suppose. It is great with burgers and picnic fare because it is sweet and cool and refreshing, even thought it isn’t cold.
6 ears of sweet corn, shucked and rinsed
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
8 leaves of fresh basil, thinly cut
1. Prepare a large pot of boiling water. Place the corn in the water and let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook the corn. Using tongs, remove the corn from the water and allow it to cool at least until it can be handled.
I’m not kidding. That is all. Corn, salt, and basil…period. This preparation lets the corn shine. There is a time and a place for buttered corn on the cob. But, you must try this. Save the butter program for less exceptional corn. If you come across wonderful sweet corn that you could practically eat un-cooked…this is your plan.
Basil cut in this manner is called a “chiffonade,” which apparently is a noun, although I very much want to use it as a verb. But, if you want to to learn how to do it and my one photo isn’t sufficient to give you the basic idea, here is a little lesson on rolling and cutting basil to achieve a honest to goodness, quite French in appearance and panache, chiffonade.
Stack the leaves and roll them up like a tiny cigar. Then, cut the cigar into little rounds. The result will be fine, little strips of basil.
Use your sharpest and thinnest knife and be as gentle to the basil as possible. Cut it as close to the time you serve it as possible to minimize the oxidization that turns the edges a bit brown. Some people prefer to just tear the basil to minimize the browning. But if you do that you cannot then run around saying you prepared a basil chiffonade, which is quite fun to say. Don’t get all worked up if your basil browns on the edges. It still tastes perfect and life is too short to get worked up about basil. Just love it.