Friday, August 29, 2014

Three Great Corn Dishes to Try Before the Season Ends

By Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:22 PM

click to enlarge Hawker Fare's twist on grilled corn on the cob. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Hawker Fare's twist on grilled corn on the cob.
When corn is in season, as it is now, fresh corn on the cob smeared with melted butter is such a lovely, classic thing, you really need to do something special to improve on it. Here are three dishes that meet the mark, available in the East Bay for a limited time.

1) Hawker Fare (2300 Webster St., Oakland) has been serving an occasional special of grilled corn with green-curry butter ($5 for a single large cob): sweet yellow corn grilled, street-cart style, until many of the kernels are blackened and well-caramelized. The best part is the green-curry butter, which looks like a thick, fibrous paste but, appropriately enough, spreads “like butter.” You get the richness of churned dairy and the herbaceous freshness of the curry (made with galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, and other herbs and spices), and a hint of mouth-tingling heat. A sprinkle of sea salt mixed with dried chili flakes puts this over the top.

click to enlarge comal_elote.jpg
2) Meanwhile, Comal (2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) should continue to serve chef Matt Gandin’s take on Mexican elote ($8) — street-style corn on the cob — through mid-October. You can find a version of this popular street snack as any number of Mexican restaurants, but Comal’s version shines because its stellar ingredients: tangy, high-quality queso fresco; a smear of smoky, luxurious chipotle aioli; and, of course, super-sweet Brentwood corn.

click to enlarge Smitten's August special. - LUKE TSAI
  • Luke Tsai
  • Smitten's August special.
3) August’s seasonal ice cream flavor at Smitten Ice Cream (5800 College Ave., Oakland) is Sweet Corn and Berries ($5.45 for a small cup), which turns out to be corn ice cream topped with a generous drizzle of sweet-tart raspberry sauce. For this particular liquid-nitrogen-fueled flavor, chef Robyn Lenzi infuses sweet corn kernels in organic milk and cream, resulting in an ice cream that’s almost more savory than sweet, with a funky richness that reminded me of a mild blue cheese. This is probably the most “grown-up” flavor you’ll ever find at Smitten. Don’t dally if you want to try it — it’ll only be available until the end of the month. 

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