Japanese Miso Grilled Corn on the Cob 味噌バターコーン

grilled corn 2

It is no secret – I love Japan – food, culture, people…I have visited several times and have always been delighted  A couple of friends over there led to more friends and I was invited to all kinds of meals and occasions.  But in Japan, I have had one major disappointment – corn.  Yes, corn トウモロコシ(toumorokoshi).

One smells it cooking on the street – sweet, smoky, exotic seasonings.  One purchases an ear with nice bits of char and dripping with butter.  Then the first bite:  like a waxy, starchy, tough satire of itself.  It is not the fault of the cookers, it is the corn.  And the Japanese enjoy corn, even to having sweet corn soup in vending machines at internet hangouts.

The corn had a lovely caramelized coating seasoned with miso.  Out of sight of the proud vendor, I licked the flavor off the ear of corn and tossed into a trash can.  I had been teased by the potential of this food.   But Japanese corn is best fed to farm animals, not people.  A friend of mine had fallen in love with fresh summer corn when he came from Japan to live here for awhile.  When he returned to Japan, I would receive sad emails asking me about the summer crop of corn.

When I returned home from my trip, I made the miso corn with fresh pulled, tender summer sweet corn.  All I can say is “yowzer!!”  The result of some experimentation was a grilled corn coated with a caramelized layer of earthy miso and rich butter.

I wowed some friends last week with the corn, my favorite sunomono, ginger/garlic/sesame grilled chicken wings.  Green tea ice cream for dessert.  I think you will like it as much as we.  Easy: two minutes to prep and about 10 minutes to cook.  One ear is one serving. NOTE: I keep a tube of miso paste in my fridge for frequent use and convenience and instant miso soup or udon noodle soup, or a miso baked chicken.

Ingredients
4 ears sweet corn
3 tablespoons butter – unsalted softened
3 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tbs honey
1 small clove garlic grated

Instructions
Peel away the husks and silk of the corn, leaving the stem attached to the cob. Use a damp paper towel to rub off any stray strands of silk. Put the corn on a hot grill or in a hot broiler, turning periodically until there are some charred specs on every surface of the corn. In the meantime, add the butter, miso, honey and garlic. Use the back of a fork to mash the mixture together. When the corn is done, spread a generous amount of miso mixture onto each ear of corn and return to the grill. Grill, rotating regularly until the miso has caramelized onto the outside of the corn. Remove from the grill to serving dish and chow down.   Note: I place a piece of pierced foil under the corn at this point to keep rolling the ears around in the good stuff that drips off. I use tongs so as not to burn myself.

fresh cprn

 

Miso Soup – 味噌汁 – Japanese Soul Food

 Miso soup is truly Japanese soul food.  it is eaten any time of day, any season of the year.  It can be delicate and simple or, hearty, as you choose.  To it can be added meats, vegetables, seafood, tofu. It is up to you.

I make a vegetable version which I have listed below. You can use dashi in place of the water.  Dashi is easy to make.  Four cups of water and two handfuls (four small packs) of dried bonita flakes. Add the bonita to the boiling water and simmer for about three minutes. Strain. Some people add some shredded kombu (dried seaweed). The taste will be different with either just water or with dashi.

There are different kinds of miso paste. I prefer the white (shiromiso) to the red (akamiso) or mixed (awase). You can also purchase miso granules or even, dashi granules. Be aware that sometimes, these “instant” varieties can be high in sodium and/or contain MSG.  Ingredients can usually be purchased at any Asian food store or even, in regular groceries.

Ingredients added to miso soup tend to be seasonal. Usually, you have heavier ingredients that sink, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, tofu, meat and an ingredient that floats – sliced scallions, mushrooms, seaweed, slivered kale, etc. My favorite is with potatoes and onions but I also like the version below with tofu and scallions.

Simmer your veggies or meat in the dashi/broth and remove from the heat. I use a tea strainer to incorporate the miso into the broth. I immerse the strainer and add the miso to the strainer. Using a wooden spoon, I mix the miso around until it is all dissolved into the broth. I briefly reheat and add the floating ingredient. Tofu is delicate and does not need to be simmered, just heated through. Do not boil or overheat the miso. It will change the flavor and also, some of the benefits of the miso will be destroyed.

Miso Soup
4 cups water
1/3 cup miso
2 green onions (scallions) chopped
1 tbs. shredded nor or wakame seaweed
1/2 block silken tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
dash soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
bit of finely grated fresh ginger (optional)

Preparation:  Bring water to a slow simmer and add seaweed. Allow to simmer at least 5-6 minutes. The longer you simmer the seaweed, the less of a salty fishy flavor it will have.  (I omit as I do not care for the fishy taste.)  Reduce heat to very low and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until miso is well dissolved. Makes 4 servings.

Variation:  Peel and chop two potatoes and 1 small onion. Add to water and simmer until tender. Add the miso and scallion.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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