Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweetcorn recipes – from kernels to husks and cobs – The Guardian

Every part of a corn cob is usable, so don’t waste a thing: use the charred kernels in a spicy lime sauce, the husks for wrapping coconut prawn tamales, and empty cobs to lend a subtle flavour to set coffee liqueur custards
Making use of things that are often thrown away in the kitchen is particularly satisfying, I find. The simple joy of making a vegetable stock, for example, using up the vegetable peelings and trimming that are often left over after cooking. Thinking about ingredients in this way – that is, using up the whole thing – is not only a great step towards zero-waste cooking, but it also provides a good excuse for one recipe to hand the baton (or, in today’s case, the corn cob) on to the next.
Ideally, use in-season corn on the cob for that proper corn flavour.
Prep 10-15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 6
4 green peppers, halved, stems, pith and seeds removed, then each half cut lengthways into 3 (about 600g net)
2 bunches spring onions, trimmed (250g net)
2 tsp olive oil
350g fresh corn kernels
(shaved off about 4 cobs; keep the cobs for another use – see brulee recipe), or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
30g unsalted butter
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1 lime
, cut in half, one half squeezed to get 2 tsp juice
½ tsp aleppo chilli
1¼ tsp cumin seeds
, toasted and lightly ground in a mortar
20g coriander, leaves picked, stems finely chopped
100g feta, coarsely crumbled
For the crema
70g soured cream
30g mayonnaise
2 tsp lime juice

For the sauce
30ml hot sauce
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp brown sugar

Put the peppers, spring onions and two teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl and toss to coat. Put a large frying pan on a high heat and, once smoking, char just the peppers in two batches for two to three minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate or tray to cool. In the same pan, char the spring onions in three or four batches for two to three minutes on each side, then transfer to the pepper tray. Once cool, cut the spring onions at an angle into 6cm lengths and return them and the peppers to the bowl.
Put the corn and a teaspoon of olive oil in a second bowl, toss to coat, then char in the hot griddle pan, turning occasionally, for five to seven minutes, until softened and lightly blackened in places. Take the pan off the heat, mix in the butter and a half-teaspoon of salt, and spoon the corn back into its bowl.
Meanwhile, make the crema. Put the soured cream, mayo, lime juice, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of water in a small bowl, mix well, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in another small bowl, and set aside.
Put the aleppo chilli, cumin and a pinch of salt in a third small bowl and mix well.
To assemble, mix the spring onions, peppers and chopped coriander stems with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, a good grind of pepper and two teaspoons of lime juice. Arrange a third of the pepper mixture and a third of the corn on a platter with a lip. Drizzle over some of the crema followed by some of the hot sauce, then sprinkle over some of the feta and some of the cumin mixture. Scatter a few of the coriander leaves on top, then repeat the layers, building up the dish as you go, until everything is used up. Serve at room temperature with the extra lime half for squeezing on top.
Tamales are stuffed corn dough wraps from Central America. Traditionally, they are steamed in corn husks that would normally be discarded. Save large husks for wrapping and smaller ones for tying the ends (you can even freeze any excess to use another time). If you can’t get husk-on corn, use well-soaked greaseproof paperinstead.
Prep 15-20 min
Cook 2 hr 15 min
Serves 4
1 dried guajillo chilli, or 1 mild dried chilli
½ tsp lime zest
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp baking powder
10 head-on, shell-on king prawns
, shells and heads reserved, flesh chopped into ½cm pieces
1 red onion, peeled (150g net), coarsely grated, then squeezed to remove any excess water
Fine sea salt and black pepper
250ml chicken stock
115g masa harina
1 tbsp olive oil
30 corn husks
(from about 4 cobs), or greaseproof paper, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
For the sauce
100ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves
, peeled and roughly chopped
15g piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red chilli, halved lengthways
50ml tequila, or rum or brandy
75ml full-fat coconut milk
1½ tsp lime juice

First, make the tamale filling. Put the guajillo chilli in a small frying pan on a high heat and toast for 20 seconds on each side, until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with boiling water, weigh down with a small saucer and leave to rehydrate for 20 minutes. Strain, then cut open the chilli, remove and discard the stem and seeds, and chop the flesh into a paste. Put the guajillo paste in a medium bowl, add the lime zest, ground ginger, baking powder, prawns, onion, a half-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and stir to combine.
Warm the stock in a small saucepan over a high heat. Put the masa harina in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, turn on to medium and slowly beat in the stock. Mix for three minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, until fluffy. Add the oil, mix until that’s incorporated, too, then turn off the motor and fold in the prawn mixture until just combined.
Lift the corn husks (or paper) from their soaking water, squeeze out any excess liquid and lay 10 of them out on a clean surface. Using two spoons, place a roughly 55g, 7cm-long oval of the prawn mixture in the centre of each husk, then cover completely with another piece of husk. Repeat until all the prawn mixture has been used up. Tear thin strips off the unused husks and use these to tie and seal the tamales.
Fill a large pan halfway with water, cover and bring to a simmer. Place a steamer (or colander) snugly on top, and arrange the tamales inside it in a single layer – if they don’t all fit at once, cook them in two batches. Cover and steam gently for an hour, topping up the pan with freshly boiled water as needed. When the hour is up, lift the tamales out of the steamer and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Put a medium frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the oil and the reserved prawn heads and shells, and fry, stirring often, for four minutes, until they turn a deep pink. Turn down the heat to low, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and a good grind of pepper, and cook, stirring, for six minutes, pressing down on the heads and shells so they release their juices. Add the tequila, cook for a minute to reduce, then pour in the coconut milk and cook for three minutes more. Pass the prawn shell mix through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on the solids to get as much juice out of them as possible, then discard the solids. Stir the lime juice and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt into the sauce, then set aside.
Arrange the tamales on a large platter and serve with the warm coconut sauce on the side.
The flavour from spent cobs is very subtle and pleasing, and pairs beautifully with this brulee and coffee liqueur.
Prep 5 min
Infuse Overnight
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Cool 2 hr 30 min
Serves 4
4 shaved corn cobs, cut in half widthways
350ml whole milk
450ml double cream
80g light brown sugar
6 egg yolks
(save the whites for another use)
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp
finely grated lime zest (ie, from 2 limes)
100ml coffee liqueur – I used Kahlua (optional)
Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the cobs right down to the hard central core, then cut the cobs in half lengthways. Put both the grated cobs and halved cores in a saucepan, then stir in the milk and cream. Set the pan on a medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then take off the heat and leave to cool. Once it’s at room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight to infuse.
Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan)/315F/gas 2½. Line a colander with a clean kitchen towel, place over a medium bowl, sieve through the milk mixture, then lift up the corners of the towel and squeeze hard to extract as much liquid as possible. You should end up with about 500ml (if not, top up with extra double cream).
In a large bowl, whisk the light brown sugar and egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Pour in the cob-infused milk mixture and whisk again to combine. Place four oven-proof ramekins on a large, high-sided oven tray and divide the milk mixture evenly between them. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the oven tray to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, then bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the creams are just set but still have a slight wobble. Carefully lift the ramekins out of the tray and set aside to cool for two hours.
Turn on the oven grill to its highest setting. Sprinkle three-quarters of a teaspoon of the caster sugar evenly over the top of each ramekin, grill for four minutes, until bubbling and caramelised, then set aside until the sugar has cooled and hardened.
Sprinkle the lime zest over the top of the brulees and serve each one with a 25ml shot of Kahlua, if using.

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