Sunday, May 15, 2011

Steamed Corn with Fresh Herb Butter

Having a husband from Iowa, there are some pretty strong feeling about sweet corn in this household.  According to my husband, just about the only corn worth eating is found in August and is purchased off the back of a pick up truck from a kid in overalls.  That said, I thought I'd take my chances with a new crop of corn that was on sale last week (6 for $1 at Sunflower Market for anyone who's interested).  I think even mediocre corn would be proud to wear the herb butter, but we were actually pleasantly surprised.  The easy steaming method saves time (no big pot of water to have to wait on) or there's also a variation for the grill below.  The only disappointing thing was only picking up four ears!  

Steamed Corn with Fresh Herb Butter
4 ears of sweet corn
water for steaming (Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian also suggests you can substitute milk for the water to produce extra sweet and tender corn, especially if the corn is less than ideal--I'll have to try that method sometime)

herb butter:
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced or grated as finely as possible
1/4 cup fresh mixed herbs, finely chopped (I used basil, parsley and cilantro but chives or rosemary or tarragon or chervil would all be good too)
salt and pepper

In a small bowl,  add garlic to butter, along with fresh herbs and stir until well mixed.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.  Set aside or chill in fridge until ready to use.  Remove husks and silk from corn and set aside.  Add 1-2 inches of water to a tall pot.  Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Place ears of corn in pot, standing up and leaning against the sides.  Cover the pot and steam the corn very briefly, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the pot, spread with the herb butter and serve immediately.

Variation: The herb butter is also really delicious on grilled corn.  To grill, peel back husks (but keep attached to the base of the ear).  Spread each ear of corn with 1/2-1 tablespoon softened herb butter and replace husks.  Grill over medium-high heat, turning the ears of corn occasionally until corn reaches desired doneness (I just like to take the "raw" taste off), about 10 minutes.

Note: sweet corn is best when cooked and eaten as quickly as possible after buying (really after picking, but we don't always have control over that).  The sugar in corn starts converting to starch immediately after picking and affects the flavor in a bad way.  Hence, why sweet corn bought off a truck in the middle of August (having been picked that morning) tastes like pure summer heaven...

cooking method inspired by Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian


  1. Wasn't it Sunflower Market?

  2. Yes, it was Sunflower Market. They feel so similar, I guess I was confused! Thanks for the correction.