Wednesday, 23 May 2012

All about corn

I intended to write an entry for corn long long time ago, but just can settle down today. Corn is the wonderful food that we eat everyday in many food products but under different forms, mostly as powders. Sometimes we just forget to eat corn at the art of origin. I always have to eat corn on the cob or plain popped corn at least once in a month (except in the winter). Now, when I find many simple ways to cook corn, I can enjoy them anytime as long as I have 5 minutes for preparation. I will introduce those cooking methods here and hope to get you back to original corn in case you also forget them in a long time. 

(Picture source:

Corn on the cob in microwave

I love corn on the cob but I don’t like to boil or steam them since the stovetop method takes so long to be done. Just think about the time consumption, I don’t really feel like eating corn anymore. However, after I find the microwave cooking method, my fridge always stores at least 5 to 6 corn ears a week. Yeah baby, thanks to my dear microwave, now I have corn on the cob ready in just maximum 5 minutes, no pain but still gain! 

  • 1 ear of corn, remove husks and silks (can leave the most inside husk), washed
  • 1 small microwave-safe-plate or bowl with 3 table spoons of drinking water in it
  • 1 piece of kitchen paper towel, cover on the top of the corn

Put the whole thing into microwave with a microwave cover on top. Set time around 3.5 to 4 minutes depending on the size and microwave power. After the microwave peeps of finish, let the corn sit there 30 seconds to a minute (mainly to let it cool down a little bit). Now, remove the paper towel and water and get ready to enjoy your corn!

Plain popcorn from dried corn kernels in microwave

I love corn :o-), just remind again that I love corn and its all cooking styles. That’s why I can’t stand away from popcorn. Unfortunately, even though I searched for most of microwave-ready-popcorn in the market, I still cannot find the plainest one for myself. Most of them are added butter or/and salt too much. I once found the brand with least salt and butter, but the grocery carries that brand was not convenient for me. And more important, I still wanted the plainer one than that brand which is impossible to find around for now.

During the time questing for those instant popcorn from groceries to groceries, some packages of dried corn kernels on the shelves caught my eyes.  At that time, the only method I knew to pop dried corn kernels was stovetop. Honestly, I procrastinated so long to buy a package just because I couldn’t overcome the thinking of dealing with a big pot on the stove with sweats dropping down my forehead. Well, guess what? Last month, I got a big box of 24 instant popcorn packets when it was on sales. I thought that box carried the same brand with least butter and salt I mentioned above. But too bad, even though the box design and color looked the same, those popcorn turned out very very salty. That was my fault to neglect of reading ingredients again.  Meanwhile, I don’t really know what I can do with the rest of 23 packets though. And even worse, I wanted popcorn badly. You may get the feeling that the food is ready and you want it badly but you can't eat it. Finally I couldn’t help for longer and came up with a decision to buy one package of dried corn kernels. I actually told myself that I would try cooking them on the stove in the worst case.

Human beings are lazy on the regular basis and I’m one of them. That’s why I have some stories to tell in this post :-o). I asked myself what would happen if I used microwave to pop those dried corn kernels. Wait no more, I did that. At home, I didn’t have heat bags or any good bags to alter the one used for instant popcorn packets. To me, simplicity is an art. That was why I just tested corn kernels by itself, no need for any other supports. 

The thing is, those special heat bags help to keep the heat well so corn kernels will pop properly and evenly. Without them, how did I get the thing done? My solution was simple, if the heat bag can carry 1 cup of corn kernel, I would try myself with ½ or even ¼ cup on a large surface. I think the result is acceptable for now. Here is the way I make it:
  • 1 microwave-safe-plate or bowl (with the diameter should be at least 25 to 30 cm), prefer the good quality product which can tolerate for very high heat
  • ¼ cup of dried corn kernel (if you want to do more, you'd better to do another round, don't cram too much for once)
  • (olive oil, butter, salt if you want more flavor, I prefer the plain one so I don’t use any of these)
  • 1 microwave cover (usually if you’re using microwave, you would have a cover already)

Spread dried corn kernels on the plate surface evenly, put the microwave cover on top and lay the whole thing in microwave. 

Set timer exactly to 3 minutes 20 seconds at default heat (highest one) and let the microwave do the job. If you want to control more, set time to 4 minutes but remember to stop the microwave any time after 3 minutes or when you just hear around 1 or 2 pops at a time. If you stop too early, there will be a lot of corn kernels undone. It will be fine because you can do another round anytime. However, if you stop too late, the whole thing may be burnt and they all will land into the garbage bin. You should weigh your brain here.

When the microwave stops, don’t remove the plate too early since it’s extremely hot. Just let it sit there 1 to 2 minutes and use the kitchen mitts to get it out (just in case). Now you can enjoy the plain popcorn with less sweating. There may be dozens of corn kernels leftover on the plate at the end depending on how well you control the timer above. I don’t mind about them at all since I know for sure I can pop them in the next round anytime.

(The leftover with exact time 3 mins and 20 seconds)
Updated: After posting this entry, I continued testing the timer and I found the perfect one for my microwave, it's 3 minutes 33 seconds, such a beautiful number! With this time amount, there were no corn kernels leftover or burnt elements either. I just love it!

Some people recommend using paper bags for food to replace heat bags. You may use this one at your own risk though. The reason is some people also reported that the paper bags would catch a fire in microwave too. Be careful!

Raw corn soup

As far as I know, corn are at best to have when it is fresh. As long we store corn after picking, as less nutrition left they contain. If possible, farmers sometimes still eat corn right on the field when they’re just picked. That’s why, as long as the corn is clean, we’re recommended eating them just like fruits. I cannot show any evidence or science research on those things, but I believe in those claims myself.

Around two months ago (around the last month of 2012 winter), I accidently visited apronstrings blog and saw this post: No-Cook Raw Corn and Chilled Shrimp Soup Recipe – Sublime Summer Bliss in a Bowl in Just 20 Minutes.  [Click on the link for the recipe]. Just unconsciously, I saved it for my summer. I knew raw corn would bring me some surprise and I would never be disappointed for an attempt.

Victoria Day just came with a long weekend and also kicked off summer here in Canada. It also meant the time for the soup comes.  If you’re a food adventurer like me, you would love this soup. If not, you may find it monotonous like my partner. My personal opinion when first tasting this soup is, every ingredient gives different flavors but immerses together in one bite to give a feeling of “you know but you don’t know.”  [You know them all but you don’t know how they are when they combine to each other.] Shortly, all I want to say is giving raw corn a try. You may open a door that you never know it was always there for you.

Grilled and baked corn ears

Though corn are very tasty with these cooking methods, I didn't try them myself yet. Reason, you ask? Laziness! This method costs time as much as boiling one. However, I did tried BBQ corn on the cob and they tasted excellent too. If anytime later I hit these methods myself at home, I'll update this entry ;). Meantime, let's enjoy other 3 methods first. 

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