How To: Sweet Coconut Corn

How To: Sweet Coconut Corn



DAPHNE CHENG

Limp iceberg lettuce, mushy peas, canned green beans.

With such poor examples at the forefront of a standard American diet, it’s no wonder that many adults—and, by default, their children—don’t like to eat vegetables.

Luckily, in the past few years, attitudes towards vegetables have begun to change for the better. Prominent chefs from Dovetail’s John Fraser to Iron Chef’s Mario Batali and even Momofuku’s David Chang are now paying more attention to the botanical side of cuisine. Vegetables are finally getting the respect in the kitchen they deserve.

This cultural shift refocuses the spotlight from the usual animal protein-based meal onto what’s too often relegated as a side dish: the vegetable. Roles are reversed, so rather than a filet mignon with a side of spinach, one might enjoy a plate of vibrant roasted vegetables. The meat, if necessary at all, would serve as a small accent.

The secret to soul-satisfying vegetable cuisine lies in understanding the components of a good dish: A cook should play with layers of contrasting flavor, color and texture. The key to a sumptuous experience is finding that perfect balance of sweet, savory, sour, bitter and umami, where no one aspect overwhelms the palate.

For example, a simple tomato bisque can become an orgasmic experience by adding crunch (say sliced almonds), creaminess (a dollop of homemade cashew yogurt), color (fresh basil and diced yellow bell peppers) and depth of flavor (a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and fried shallots). All the components together make the dish greater than the sum of its parts.

Vegetables are far from bland and boring. The thousands of varieties of roots, shoots and leaves offer never-ending fodder for culinary innovation. When shopping for dinner, don’t be afraid to try unfamiliar vegetables at the market. You never know what new favorite you might discover.

Avoid creating shopping lists ahead of time. When crafting my own dinners at Suite ThreeOhSix, I create the menu as I walk through the market, gaining inspiration from what is fresh and calls out to me.

Below is a sample recipe that features some of early fall’s finest: corn and bell peppers. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients for Sweet Coconut Corn

2 ears raw corn

½ can coconut milk

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp paprika

¼ tsp salt, more to taste

Pinch of black pepper

 

Method

1. Holding the stemmed end, place tip of corn in bowl and slide knife down the cob to cut off kernels.

2. Mix rest of ingredients in with the kernels and set aside.

 

Ingredients for Spicy Romesco Sauce

2 red bell peppers, quartered, deseeded

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

¼ cup roasted almonds

1 tsp chili flakes

¼ tsp salt, more to taste

Pinch of black pepper

Garnish:

Fresh cilantro and/or thai basil

Toasted coconut flakes

 

Method

1. Process red bell peppers, onion, garlic, almonds and salt in food processor until well-blended, but still textured.

2. To serve, spoon Romesco sauce onto a plate. Use a measuring cup to mold and place coconut corn over sauce. Garnish with cilantro and/or thai basil and coconut flakes, if desired.

photo credits: aaron feaver, amie