Culinary Creations: Ways to utilize corn: The quintessential summer vegetable | News, Sports, Jobs

Culinary Creations: Ways to utilize corn: The quintessential summer vegetable |  News, Sports, Jobs

EDITOR’S NOTE: Culinary Creations is a column that prints the last week of every month. It is written by Shawn L. Hanlin, executive chef of Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, operated by Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Business, Arts & Sciences as a training site for students in culinary arts and baking pastry arts majors. Hanlin has been a chef for 40 years and was on Team USA for the World Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.

Good day, all. Chef Shawn here at Le Jeune. Hope all are staying cool.

I am excited to share this month’s vegetable: sweet corn.

I say sweet corn because (fun fact) there are actually six kinds of corn cultivated currently: dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn and sweet corn.

Maize — Spanish for corn — is a cereal grain first cultivated and domesticated by the indigenous people in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.

The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen (or tassels) at the top, as well as separate silks below the tassels on each beginning ear of corn. The silks will be fertilized by the falling pollen, and then produce the corn kernels we eat. You know a silk has been pollinated if it has dried up and turned down.

That’s why corn grows best close together in rows.

These many corn varieties are very versatile, and you’d be surprised by the many ways we use this amazing crop. Besides being used as a staple food in many parts of the world, dent corn is used for animal feed and silage, pod corn for ethanol and bio fuels. And don’t forget bourbon whiskey; we couldn’t have that without corn. Popcorn, corn meal, corn oil, cornstarch, corn syrup, even the cobs are used for animal bedding — you get the idea.

Most folks can’t get enough corn on the cob here in the summer just picked (the longer the corn is off the plant, the more its sugars turn to starch). To prepare it, blanch in boiling water for a few minutes. Do not overcook your cobs, as they will become tough. Just slather with butter, salt and fresh cracked black pepper, or finish on the grill.

Not another vegetable — besides maybe the tomato and the watermelon — screams summer more than fresh sweet corn.

Our recipe today is interesting, as we will be using corn juice to make the sauce for our scallop dish. You will need a juicer for this method, as it is the only way to extract the sweet juice from the corn.

This recipe is simple, as most we show, with few ingredients, simply prepared at the peak of freshness. Please enjoy, and as always, good cooking.

Seared Scallops with Corn Sauce

Servings: 4

For the corn sauce:

1 pint of corn juice

Kosher salt to taste

Fresh black pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon sweet butter

Fresh chopped parsley

1 pinch of cayenne pepper

Juice raw corn that has been removed from the cob in a juicer. Add raw juice to a stainless steel bowl, and whisk over a double boiler until thick. This should take approximately 5 minutes. (Why will this get thick? What’s in corn juice? Corn starch!) Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, lemon juice, butter, parsley and cayenne.

For the scallops:

12 each U12 dry packed sea scallops

Kosher salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Old Bay to taste

Canola oil

Fresh lemon juice

Butter to finish

In a seasoned, very hot pan, add a splash of canola, or any other salad oil, as these have the highest smoke point. Right before placing in the pan, season the scallops, which you have dried very well. (Whenever you want to sear something, the dryer the better.)

Place in a very hot pan. Do not move. After a few minutes, turn scallops once. You will see that the scallop is nicely seared. Finished with a little bit of lemon juice and butter. Saute fresh corn kernels and add to the dish, along with the corn sauce. Eat!

Note: Dry-packed scallops are the best choice, as treated scallops will not sear well, and who wants to eat sodium tripolyphosphate?

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