Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tiny Things – WHB

It amazes me every week.

We take a morning walk around the stands at the farmer’s market. Same people, more or less, every week.

But every week, we find something interesting.

Something we’d never seen there before, or something unique, or something we’d never seen before period.

This week looked less promising, for the first time. Lots of nice produce, mostly organic. (Does organic just mean twice the normal price, or what?) (I mean, who really knows what goes on at these farms?) Well, can’t be cynical about it all.

We always walk the same way. We enter near the old guy, who is playing guitare and singing ‘House at Pooh Corner’, every week, every time we go past him. Never fails. We hit the herbs first. Then go around the first long ‘U’ of stands, stopping, keeping track of interesting things for the return. After the first ‘U’ of stands, there is a second ‘U’. The whole thing makes sort of an ‘M’ shape.

Well, we did the whole thing. And were on the way out, almost the second time by the last stand, almost ready to pass the old guy, now singing some old 50s folk song, sometimes it’s ‘If I had a hammer’, things like that.

When we spotted something interesting. We were looking at the heirloom tomatoes, which we had spotted on the first loop through. And we saw the baby corn.

It looked strange in the sense that we knew it was corn, but they were tiny. Even though still in the husk, with the hairy silk still attached, the ears of corn were smaller than your finger.

And 10 for a dollar. So we got 20. So it's Baby Corn this week for , sponsored this week by Virginie at .

I’ve seen baby corn in cans, and eaten it in Chinese food at restaurants. I may have even served it myself a time or two. Who knows!

But I have never seen it fresh like that.

It looked fun. And interesting. And put us in the mood for something Asian for dinner (it’s that whole in-bred stereo-typing thing). So we snapped up some lemongrass as well. 5 stalks.

The baby corn is simply corn, picked by hand, about 2 days after silk appears. Because of the hand harvesting, most is not grown in the US, but in Thailand. And it spoils quickly, which is why most baby corn is sold canned or pickled.

And they are tricky little devils to husk. When you open them, there is almost nothing inside. Just a lot of husk and silk. And one very fragile little ear of corn. We broke one because of my rough handling.

We decided to give tiny corns a light pan fry, like a stir fry. With some of the lemongrass, in peanut oil, among other things.

Lemongrass is pretty well known, if not very common here in the US. To my way of thinking, it is primarily a flavoring agent. Not something that I like to eat as such. Like a bay leaf. Sliced and used in marinades, or sautéed, etc., it imparts a wonderful lemony-gingery flavor to foods.

The lemongrass itself is attributed with being a digestive. As well as a mild insect repellant. And it seems to induce mild perspiration. As if I need more of that!

So I marinated some boneless chicken thighs in some slices lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, chili peppers and peanut oil. And grilled them up.

We grilled up some regular corn on the cob, still in the husk. I love the flavor and texture of grilled corn on the cob. Sometimes I unwrap the husks a bit, and slather the corn in butter, rewrap it (I tie it with some of the silk), and grill it that way. Delicious!

We don’t eat the corn on the actual cob anymore – TeenGirl has braces and it makes a real mess – so I cut the corn off the cob, and made a salad with some tomatoes and the purple basil from last week. A light ponzu – peanut oil dressing.

A little dandelion and romaine salad, and dinner was served!

Lemongrass Grilled Chicken with Baby Corn
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 stalks lemongrass, sliced
1-2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp rice vinegar
3-4 tbsp peanut oil
20 ears of baby corn husked and cleaned
½ head dandelion salad, rinsed, dried, and cut into bite sized pieces
½ head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, and cut into bite sized pieces
salt, pepper

In a bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. Add chicken pieces, and stir to coat well. Let sit for 30 to 60 minutes.

Over a hot grill, or under the broiler, broil the chicken pieces until well browned on both sides. Reserve the excess marinade and lemongrass slices.

While the chicken is grilling, heat some peanut oil in a small sauté pan. Add the excess marinade, lemongrass slices and ears of baby corn. Sautee, stirring gently, until corn is lightly browned.

In a bowl, toss the dandelion and romaine with 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over ¼ cup peanut oil. Toss well.

Place some salad on serving plates. Place one or two chicken thighs on top of the salad. Arrange a few baby corn ears on top of the chicken. Serve. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Ponzu Vinaigrette
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4

4 ears of corn with husks intact
4 roma tomatoes, pipped and chopped
¼ cup purple basil, chopped chiffonade
2-3 tbsp ponzu
¼ cup peanut oil
salt, pepper

Soak the corn for 30 minutes.

Roast corn, still in the husks, over hot coals (or under the broiler), turning as the husk blackens, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

When cool, husk corn, and cut kernels from cob into a bowl. Add tomatoes, basil, ponzu, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Drizzle with peanut oil. Toss to combine. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger ilva said...

Did you eat the little guy in the first pic as well?? I enjoyed your post as usual!

2:36 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

ilva - thanks for the comment! We let the little guy (girl?) go after a bit of an arobic workout on our table. I suppose he is happily finishing his corn under the protection of some bushes!

12:06 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Looks delicious. I've never seen baby corn sold fresh anywhere -- I've only had the canned kind. It must have been a special treat to have them fresh.

8:20 PM  

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