Some people have similarities to vegetables. I don’t mean that in a rude, insulting way, but in an genuinely characterful or aesthetic way. People can look like aubergines, eggs, asparagus, all sorts of things. My girlfriend seems to think I look like a sweetcorn and apparently I have an affinity with them as they (my sweetcorn family) all wave at me as we drive down country roads lined with fields of tall sweetcorn plants.
I do admittedly have a certain understanding of sweetcorn, because when I was young, my Dad used to grow rows of them on his vegetable patch in our garden. As a youngster I learned how to tell when they’re ready to pick, waiting for the silky strands to darken and checking the corns are milky when pierced. Of all the vegetables that sprung from that patch of land, sweetcorn was the homegrown vegetable which I noticed had the most incredible flavour compared to anything I’d eaten elsewhere. Whether it was the variety, the freshness of going from plant to table in half an hour, or the gentle nurturing that set them apart, I don’t know, but they were definitely the best sweetcorn I’ve ever had.
Whether my affinity is because of my likeness to sweetcorn, or because I became more like the sweetcorn once I discoverd how enjoyable it is, is anyone’s guess. Either way, there’s a certain childlike enthusiasm around buying and cooking sweetcorn for me, even today.
The most common treatment for corn on the cob is butter and salt, the butter adding a little richness and the salt to contrast the sweetyness of the corn (there it is again, sweety salty). However, if you augment that butter just a wee bit, you can add another layer to the sweetcorn and make it something even more sumptuous. Just a few of the corn’s leaves for presentation and it’s time to dive in and get your hands sticky and enjoy that sweetcorn before the season eludes us!
All in good time...You can make the butter well in advance of when you need it, even days ahead, because you freeze it, so it lasts a long time. This amount will be enough for a few sweetcorn, but you can double it up if you want and once you’ve made the butter, you can just grab it from the freezer and slice off a disc whenever you need some more.
Anchovy sweetcorn butter
By Gavin Wren
Uses a large saucepan
100g butter, at room temperature
8 sprigs thyme, leaves only
4 anchovies, finely chopped
A couple of grinds of fresh pepper
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Peel your sweetcorn, discard the silks and keep the inner leaves. Place the whole corn in the water and bring back to the boil, then simmer for 6 minutes and drain.
Tear the excess sweetcorn leaves into strips and lay them across your plates, then place the cooked sweetcorn on top. Take your butter from the freezer and slice a 3-5mm thick disc for each corn on the cob and place it on top of the hot sweetcorn, serving immediately as the butter melts.