Charred Ginger-Chile Corn

How to Eat Weekends
You know those delicious, over-charred ears of grilled corn you eat at county fairs in the summer? If you are like us and request the ones with the most burned bits, this recipe is for you. Here, freshly cut corn kernels are charred until sizzling and popping in a flaming-hot cast-iron skillet and finished with a mince of ginger, fresh garlic and chiles. The hardest thing about this dish is learning to NOT stir or fiddle with it while it's incinerating.

This corn can be served as a side to anything green. It's wonderful with fish, or even wrapped in a corn tortilla with some fresh salsa for a sublime veggie taco. 

Cook to Cook: The choice of pan is critical here. It needs to be cast-iron and the bigger the better. If using a smaller pan, be sure to scorch the corn in small batches or there will be too much liquid thrown off to ever get the proper sear.

Also, the rule for wok cookery holds true here: hot wok, cold oil. Add the oil to the hot pan for best results. 

Equipment needed: 12-inch cast-iron skillet

  • 3 tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil 
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels cut from the cob (4 to 5 ears)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 medium jalapeño chile, seeds removed and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
1. Heat the skillet over high heat until smoking. 

2. Add the oil and let it heat briefly. Toss in the corn, making sure it is evenly spread out in the pan. The corn must not be crowded (see Cook to Cook). Do not stir for at least 1 minute, to allow the corn to severely char and pop. 

3. Stir in the ginger and jalapeño, again allowing to char with very little stirring, about 1 minute. The corn is done when a fourth to a third of the kernels are flecked with brown (depending on your taste). Stir in the garlic and remove from the heat.

4. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. 

From The Splendid Table®'s How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift (Clarkson Potter, 2011), © copyright 2011 American Public Media. 

Prep time: 
20 minutes
Cook time: 
20 minutes
Total time: 
40 minutes
Yield: 
Serves 2 to 4

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