#Cornography Day 55: Ribeye Steak with Cornaise Sauce

I consider myself quite lucky to be living just a five minute walk from one of London’s best butchers: The Butchery. Everything sold there is beautiful, and I am especially fond of their well-aged beef. Today I had a craving for steak, so I went there and bought two gorgeous Hereford ribeyes, about 375g each. The meat was well marbled, but still dense and dark. They smelled of damp wood and mushrooms cooked in fortified wine. I could tell they were going to be awesome.

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It occurred to me a while back that pureed corn could be used as a base for a wide range of sauces. One I thought might work particularly well is the classic bearnaise, and now I had a chance to test my hypothesis. I simmered a finely chopped shallot in Meyer lemon juice and the brine from a can of corn along with salt and pepper. When the shallot was soft and the liquid had reduced, I added the corn along with a good knob of butter and just enough water to cover. I simmered the corn until tender, then pureed it with a stick blender, and passed it through a fine sieve. The starch from the corn emulsified the butter and the liquid ingredients instead of the usual egg, and the end result was velvety smooth, if slightly pasty. I added finely chopped tarragon just before reheating the sauce to serve.

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I fried the steaks with minimal oil for about 8 minutes. They had a wonderful brown crust and a pink, juicy interior. The corn bearnaise was an excellent stand in for the real McCoy, with the sweetness of the corn approximating that of butter. The tarragon completed the illusion. It was very tasty indeed, although the sauce is probably better suited to chicken than beef. At any rate, whether you call it cornaise or corn and tarragon sauce or tarragon creamed corn or whatever, it’s a keeper.

#Cornography Day 53: Shiokoji Creamed Corn with Many Oils

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As I said previously, creamed corn needs help on the flavor front. Robbed of its crisp texture, the taste of canned corn is deadened when turned into a starchy paste. However, this is easily remedied with a few choice ingredients – today, I boiled some corn with shiokoji soup mix, chopped garlic and shallot, and a little Old Bay. I then pureed it with a stick blender. It was dense, salty, and sweet; the fresh corn flavor was muted, but the cheesiness of the shiokoji and the musk of the garlic picked up the slack. To lift the flavor even more, I garnished the corn with five flavorful oils: grassy Calabrian olive oil, vibrant yuzu oil, hot-and-fruity Okinawan chilli oil, toasty sesame oil, and intensely nutty Styrian pumpkin seed oil. A pinch of katsuobushi furikake to finish, and it was good to go. The oils blended together nicely; the olive, sesame, and pumpkin seed fading into subtle background notes, with the chilli oil up front, and a particularly lovely spot of brightness from the yuzu oil.

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#Cornography Day 52: Meyer Lemony Corn

Today was one of those days when I was really not looking forward to eating corn, on account that by the time I had remembered to do it, it was late and I had been eating all day – loco moco for lunch, spoonfuls of crab bisque for recipe development throughout the day, and finally tacos and taquitos for dinner. Plus beer. I was stuffed. But luckily, I received a very special delivery today of something that had the potential to make my mandatory corn refreshing rather than unpleasantly filling: a sack of Meyer lemons, which restaurant blogger extraordinaire Chris Pople was kind enough to carry all the way from San Diego for me.

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I love Meyer lemons – I just wrote about them here. And these happen to be primo specimens – the aroma is huge on thyme and orange, and they are tender and full of juice. Their sweetness is spot on – just enough to keep the acid in check. When I got home, I squeezed a quarter of one out onto some corn. I stirred it up and took a bite. It was vibrant and intense and extremely refreshing. But it was slightly over the top. I added a little splash of soy sauce. There we go. The shoyu’s saltiness and mellow caramel flavors rounded out the Meyer lemon’s acidity without obscuring its subtle flavors. It was so simple, and so delicious. I look forward to playing around with my remaining four and a half Meyer lemons over the next few days.
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#Cornography Day 51: Zaru Soba with Corn and Mixed Vegetable Kakiage

The second most frequently asked question I get in regards to this endeavor (after ‘How’s your poo?’) is ‘When are you going to make fritters?’ Well, the answer is:  about an hour ago.

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Kakiage is a sort of tempura fritter, dotted with a mishmash of things such as tiny prawns, shaved burdock, peas, carrots, and corn. At its best, it is pure crunch and flavor, the ingredients just barely held together by a thin coating of light, crispy batter. It is usually eaten with soba or udon. It is delicious, though I have never made it before. Turns out it’s very easy, too.

I prepared a tsuyu by heating up some flying fish dashi, mirin, and two kinds of soy sauce. I then mixed a can of corn with peas together with shredded ginger, julienned octopus jerky, chopped green beans, sliced spring onion, grated white carrot, and salt. I heated a panful of oil while I cooked some soba noodles, then rinsed them in cold water and tossed them with a spoonful of yuzu oil to prevent sticking. I made a simple tempura batter out of equal volumes plain flour and sparkling water and poured this onto the vegetables – just enough to coat – and mixed everything up.

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I lowered spoonfuls of the kakiage mixture into the oil once it was nice and hot. I cooked each one for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown with darker brown bits where the vegetables were poking out. When the kakiage were done I drained them on a wire rack and seasoned them with sansho and salt, then made another batch.

To serve, I transferred the soba to plates and poured the hot, concentrated tsuyu into deep bowls. I served the kakiage on the side along with some sliced spring onions. The kakiage were full of flavor and super-crunchy, although some of the bigger ones were still gooey in the middle. Next time I will make them thinner and drain off excess batter to prevent this. The tsuyu was appropriately salty, sweet, and savory, and provided good seasoning for both the noodles and the fritters. When we’d eaten everything, I added hot water to the tsuyu and we enjoyed it as a broth. The residual yuzu oil from the noodles was surprisingly prominent, and it helped provide an uplifting finish to the meal. It was most satisfactory.

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#Cornography Day 50: Blood Orange, White Carrot, Corn and Ginger Salad

This time of year, everybody’s talkin’ about blood oranges. Personally, I’ve never really understood what all the fuss is about. Sure, they look cool. But they don’t really taste much different from an ordinary navel. Maybe I’ve just never had a really good one.

I bought some blood oranges on my most recent shop because they were on offer, and probably because I was subconsciously influenced by so many tweets and Instagrams and articles about them in recent weeks. They are tasty, no doubt about that, and you can’t deny the visual impact of their deep, sanguine hue.

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I segmented the orange, cut the segments in half, and mixed them with corn and finely shredded ginger. I also added another off-colored item, some shaved white carrot. I dressed everything with salt, yuzu oil, and kabosu juice, and garnished the salad with chopped macadamia nuts. The salad was fresh yet filling, and more than the sum of its parts. The combination of corn, carrot, and blood orange together seemed to produce a faint beetroot flavor, though maybe I was just dazzled by the orange’s beetrooty colour. Then again, I read somewhere that if you add malic acid to beetroot, it tastes like raspberries. So maybe it wasn’t all in my mind. At any rate, it wasn’t as good as my first corn-citrus salad, but it was still pretty good.

#Cornography Day 49: Creamed Corn with Okonomiyaki Flavors

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Creamed corn is a funny thing. Despite the fact that it is clearly a soup, it’s most often served as a side, poured out onto dinner plates in a chunky yellow puddle. And the canned versions are not ‘creamed’ in any meaningful sense – they aren’t smooth, nor do they contain any cream. I suppose this is why they must actually be labelled ‘creamed style’ corn. Which is just weird. At any rate, canned creamed corn needs help on the flavour front, and what better to provide that help than traditional okonomiyaki seasonings?

I stirred a spoonful of okonomi sauce into the creamed corn along with sliced spring onions, a pinch of dashi powder and a little shichimi. When the corn was piping hot I put it in a bowl and topped it with Kewpee mayo, chilli oil, sesame oil, aonori flakes, more spring onions, and katsuobushi. It was surprisingly delicious – the katsuobushi in particular was a lovely touch. That smoky seafood flavor combined with the creamed corn texture called to mind clam chowder. I would happily eat this again.