Updated: Jan 8
In my family summer without corn on the cob just isn't summer. We love it, and my boys would eat sweet corn every day if they could. I can't disagree with them much. It's a mere impossibility to improve upon that nearly perfect marriage of juicy sweet corn with a little bit of butter creating a harmony of flavors bursting inside your mouth. Although, sweet corn has an affinity for excellence with so many other ingredients that it is quite unfair to make her monogamous. Herbs, cheese, peppers, bacon, garlic, ginger, and citrus all deserve a moment of blissful union with this most American food. Today, I will try to convince you to experiment with sweet corn in another way asking you to be brave and at least give it a try.
Every year when the season arrives for sweet corn, I test its quality by peeling back the husk and silk and biting into the raw kernels. I actually like raw corn on the cob just as much as cooked corn. That's how the idea for this salad was born. Just to make sure, I googled and discovered that I'm not the only one who eats raw corn.
For this fantastic summer salad, you need good quality sweet corn, and any kind will work white, yellow or bicolor from your local farm.
What is sweet corn?
I grew up in Ukraine, and never tasted sweet corn until the summer of 2009 for the only corn I knew of was referred to as field corn. The corn is much less sweet and a lot starchier, and since it is a grain, does require several hours of cooking time versus the sweet variety, which is much juicier and sweeter requiring only 3-5 minutes to cook. Sweet corn is a genetic mutation of field corn discovered by American Indians. It has more sugar, which makes it very perishable, so farmers harvest it when it's immature and can be eaten like a vegetable.
I still remember my first introduction to sweet corn. I arrived in the US at the peak of summer and of course corn season. My future husband grabbed a few ears of corn in one of the local supermarkets and asked me to cook it. Well, I was prepared to call it a night, since I was supposed to babysit a pot of corn on the cobs for a few hours. David laughed and said, "No honey, it only takes just a few minutes to cook". What??? How was that possible?
Since then, I have improved my culinary skills and knowledge of food including corn that caught my attention.
In the US field corn is the king of all crops without any question and is quite controversial. The average American consumes way more corn than he/she can ever imagine. It's everywhere, snacks, cereals, candies, cookies, and other processed food items. Corn that grows in the US is 88 present GMO and that's why reading labels is very important.
Not long ago I posted a recipe for Southern Cornbread with Kefir, and I mentioned that only organic and not GMO grains should be used in the recipe. It's important since GMO food can do some permanent damage to your health.
Disturb endocrine system function
Disorders of the reproductive system
Changes in the gut microbiome
Increased risk for antibiotic resistance
How to buy and keep sweet corn fresh?
Select the best and keep it fresh. Once corn has been picked, it is extremely important to cool it down and keep it that way until you prepare it. To avoid dry kernels, keep in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days. If you are buying corn at the farmer's market, and that's what I highly recommend, go early in the morning. The longer corn sits out in hot temperatures, the more it suffers. Select corn that is bright green and has moist-looking husks.
The first corn of the summer is the best and least likely to have been sprayed. As summer moves along, insects and worms become harder to control, so if you buy organic, don't panic if you spot one of our wiggly invertebrate corn grazers (worms).
What do I need for this salad?
Sweet corn on the cob
Fermented red onions (see below for description)
Herbs (cilantro, mint, etc.)
Poblano pepper and red pepper
A few pantries staple ingredients for the dressing
Please, save the cobs for my next recipe!!!
On Fermented Red Onions
Fermented onions are another must have ingredient for this salad!
Even though this is a corn salad, and the main ingredient is corn, the true stars of the dish (what makes your gut thankful) are the fermented red onions. They are an excellent addition to any salad, sandwich, or wrap. This is my favorite way to eat more onions, and my little Johnny actually loves them on their own. They're super easy to make and can stay in your refrigerator for up to 9 months. Keep it in mind that fermented onion juice is also a perfect addition to any of your salad dressings!
Check out this recipe with fermented onions:
Fermented onions don’t have that strong bite!
Fermented Red Onions Ingredients
2 large red onions, sliced
1 tablespoon Celtic salt
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh whey (optional)
12 ounces filtered water
Kombucha or apple cider vinegar with "mother" (enough to fill the Mason jar if following the shortcut version)
Fermented Red Onions Directions
1. Place sliced onions in a Mason jar. Add herbs if you wish to use any.
2. Dissolve salt in 12 ounces of filtered water and (optional) add whey.
3. Pour brine over onions and leave 1 inch between the lid of the jar and onions. Make sure the onions are covered in brine. It's very important to have a layer of water on top to prevent the growth of bad bacteria.
4. Cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature anywhere from 3 to 10 days. Check it once in a while by opening the lid and smelling it. When the sour smell and taste are to your liking, it means the onions are ready to eat and can be stored in the fridge for up to 9 months.
Fermentation Shortcut Variation
While the lacto-fermented red onions are the real deal, you don't have to spend 3 days waiting. You can easily make probiotic-rich onions within 24 hours, which is exactly what I did for this salad.
1. Slice the onions and place them in a jar.
2. Pour overly fermented plain kombucha (also called "kombucha vinegar") over the top until the onions are covered. Or, if you're not making kombucha in your home, simply use apple cider vinegar with the "mother," like this one.
3. Cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Then move to the fridge for storage. That's it! Easy, and the ways to use fermented onions are endless!
Let's do the salad...
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Making Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Servings: 2 salads as a meal or 4 salads as a side dish
Ingredients for the salad
5 ears of raw corn
1/2 cup fermented red onions (with juice, see note above)
1 poblano pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 cup of herbs (in the video I used cilantro and mint)
Ingredients for the dressing
2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon of honey
3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons Celtic salt
2. Add fermented onions to the bowl (with little juice is ok). Roughly chop the herbs and add to the salad bowl as well.
3. Roast the poblano over an open flame (using long kitchen tongs), or under the broiler in your oven. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for a few minutes. Then peel and discard most of the char. Remove the pepper's seeds and steam, slice the remaining flesh into strips and add to the bowl.
4. For the dressing, mix together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, black pepper, and give it a whisk. Then slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking. The dressing should get thicker at this point. Give it a taste.
5. To assemble the salad, mix all ingredients that are in the bowl, pour over the dressing and mix again gently. Move to the serving platter. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper if that is your preference.
P.S. This salad is even better a few hours later or next day!