Monday, August 17, 2009

Vietnamese corn salad

Corn is one of those things that does not keep well in the fridge. It won't exactly go bad, but it just doesn't taste the same when you take it out again. Nope, corn has to be eaten as fresh as is humanly possible - it might be the ultimate seasonal food (although that could also go to tomatoes). Thus, the farmer's market is the logical destination, and ours has been absolutely brimming with corn for the past several weeks. We're talking pick-up trucks stuffed full of ears here. Of course, it's also a tricky thing to buy (you can't see the condition of the corn before you buy it), so getting those good ears is a matter of trial and error. We lucked out this week (although of course I didn't take any pictures) with six beautiful ears of a cultivar called "Montauk". We boiled two for corn-on-the-cob, and made the rest into Vietnamese corn salad - adapted from Viet World Kitchen's recipe.

I would have taken a picture, but it really just looks like a pile of corn. I promise.

Four ears of as-fresh-as-possible corn
1-2 fresh red chilies (we used Thai, but I'm sure cayenne work fine), seeds removed and chopped
1.5 tablespoons or so of dried shrimp (shrimp paste works too, or you can just use extra fish sauce), chopped
Fish sauce to taste
2 small onions or a few scallions, chopped

Use a large knife to cut the raw corn off the cobs, and scrape out all the remaining pulp and juices. Discard the cobs. Heat a few tablespoons of neutral cooking oil (not olive) in a large pan over high heat, and add the chilies, scallion/onion, and dried shrimp when it starts to shimmer. Stir-fry this mixture for 30-60 seconds, or until everything's aromatic and the scallion/onion becomes transparent. Turn the heat down to medium, add the corn, and stir everything together. Cook until most of the juice evaporates and the corn is cooked through - add the fish sauce until there's a nice balance of salty, sweet, and spicy.

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