We missed a friend's birthday dinner a few weeks ago and I wanted to have them over for dinner for an extended celebration. I wanted to create a small and delicious starter to go with our main of hoisin pork ribs. I thought of the traditional Chinese sweet and corn soup but didn't want the heaviness of it. I also wanted it be mostly about the flavour of the corn and its sweetness.
I looked at different recipes and then tried to pull elements that I liked to create my own. One of the interesting things that came up was how much the flavour varied depending on the corn I used. I used corn from Harris Farm for my test run and corn from Woolworths for the actual dinner. As soon I pulled the husk off the Woolworths corn, I noticed they didn't feel as plump as the first batch of corn I bought from Harris Farm. The Woolworths corn resulted in less juice, a paler colour and sadly less flavour. I ended up having to remedy it by putting more salt, nutmeg and cream. In these kinds of recipes where you have very few ingredients, the freshness and quality of the products you use become even more important because there's nowhere to hide.
I have since done some research on picking the best corn cob and apparently one must check for plumpness in the kernels and the hairy tassels at the top should be brown and sticky to touch. If the tassels are black and dry, this means they're old. Unfortunately, you can't always check the tassels as some groceries present them with the tips already chopped off.
2 corn cobs
750 ml water
1 T butter
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
1 T pure cream
sea salt flakes
dash of nutmeg to taste
freshly ground black pepper
a few drops of truffle oil
Using a sharp knife, shear kernels off the cobs. Put kernels in a saucepan with cold water and a small pinch of sea salt. Gently simmer for 30 minutes, then strain reserving the stock.
Melt butter in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the corn kernels and cook for 3 minutes. Add reserved stock and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Transfer soup into a food processor and whiz until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing to get as much juice as you can. If you want to prepare ahead of time, this is when you can store the soup in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When you are ready, gently reheat the soup, keeping your eye on it so it doesn't burn. Add the cream and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste and simmer for 2 minutes. Add truffle oil just before serving as its wonderful flavour tend to dissipate with heat. Serve in espresso cups or shot glasses.
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