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Corn: Raw, grilled, roasted, steamed - which do I want?

Let me start by affirming that I like corn every way I can get it.

But, I'm planning a menu that I think will include a salad involving corn, mango, sweet red peppers, avocado, cilantro and possibly black beans. And I began to think. I might use it raw (provided I can find sweet, really fresh ears). or do I want to roast it?

What does grilling so that you get browning achieve with corn? Does it caramelize the sugars in a way that steaming does not? Is browning corn on a stovetop grill any better than simply steaming it?

Or is grilling/browning only great because over a fire you get that smoky magic?

I don't have a grill in my high-rise apartment building. So that's not an option for this particular dish.

But it got me thinking about corn. What if anything do we achieve when we brown on a stovetop grill it that we don't get by steaming?

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  1. If you can get corn picked within a few hours, use it raw. A grill provides wonderful caramelization.
    In your circumstance I would cook it in the microwave in its husk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: magiesmom

      Raw corn on cob is good dipped in a soy sauce oil combo. To which you can add as you like:
      black pepper
      hot sauce
      diced onion
      little bit of vinegar
      and so on

      You also can spoon this over the corn cob on your plate instead of dipping

    2. Agree with magiesmom - microwave in the husks. You get great flavor that way. As you mentioned living in a high-rise, I'm going to guess corn picked this afternoon is not available to you, so I wouldn't suggest raw.

      1. I think some caramelization and char from the grill pan would add a nice flavor to your salad.

        1. I have gotten a grilled effect by oiling a large frying pan and slowly frying them. Break them in half. Low flame. You will easily get some light char. Turn the cobs to lightly char different surfaces. Takes 15-30 minutes

          A few drops of liquid smoke can help

          1 Reply
          1. Grilling corn provides a lovely smoky flavor. I think corn is excellent any which way--raw when it's fresh, steamed/blanched, sautéed, roasted, grilled. Just depends on what you're in the mood for and how good the corn is.

            When I can't get to the grill, I prefer a sauté until the kernels are lightly browned and start to pop. The flavor is great with peppers.

            Typically when we grill corn, it's in the husks, so the actual corn isn't getting caramelized or browned.

            I've also made delicious corn in the oven, cut off the cobs and tossed with a bit of butter or even olive oil and whatever seasonings you'd like.

            1. Chop some off the cob and taste it raw.
              If its crunchy and sweet and "pops!" in your mouth than use as is.

              Otherwise a charring or stovetop grilling gives an additional depth flavor from the natural sugars that become caramelized.
              You may want to add chopped jicama or radishes in the salad to add a crisp crunchy texture since the listed ingredients are a similar softer texture.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ttrockwood

                Good point. When it's really fresh, it's a pity to do anything but slice it off the cob.

                Jicama sounds right. thanx.

              2. Local stuff should start showing up at NJ roadside stands soon & I can't wait! I like the teeny white kernels. If cooking for a crowd, into pot of salted, boiling water for less than 5 minutes. If just cooking 1-2 ears for me, I put in glass casserole dish with 1-2 T of water, cover and microwave for 1-2 minutes per ear.

                Eating ON the cob, it HAS to be dripping with BUTTER and a liberal amount of S&P. If OFF the cob, pretty much the same, just not dripping down arms. If I was offered PERFECT corn, BUT denied butter and S&P... just might pass!?!