Ever since discovering the amazingness of raw corn last year, it’s the only way I’ll eat it off the cob (I still love da smoky grilled corn-on-the-cob with lots of cilantro butter brushed on, and brushed on often). Honestly, the concept of eating corn raw was a [forehead slap] moment: Of course I would enjoy corn raw, sliced fresh from the cob — it’s super-sweet, juicy, and crunchy. In fact, when the corn at the farmers’ market passes its prime, as it does in September, I find the texture is better raw than cooked (you know how cooked corn-on-the-cob can sometimes get tough and chewy late in the season — especially the bi-colored varieties, which are often all that’s left). It’s been a rough year for corn here in the Midwest, so I’ve been enjoying it raw for most of the summer (the tender, super-sweet silver queen made an all-too-brief appearance in August).
(And frankly, between you and me, with each passing year I find the whole corn-slivers-stuck-in-your-teeth-when-gnawed-off-the-cob thing becoming unbearable — I just can’t get to the floss fast enough. You know what I’m saying, right? No? Just me? [shuffles feet] Alrighty then.)
Annnnyway … cabbages are hitting the farmers’ markets, as summer produce transitions to fall — small, adorable little heads with green leaves ever-so-sweetly curled back at the edges.
And so, it’s the high-season for slaws. You might not naturally pair corn and cabbage, but you have think raw corn, with its juicy crunch (not soft, yielding, cooked corn). In fact, this slaw is packed full with sweet, crunchy veggies — peppers and cucumbers, too — and then scented with a generous helping of freshly picked cilantro and doused in a spicy-oniony coconut milk dressing.
Bringing ears of corn home from the market means a funny little ritual that my kitty, Kitty Roo, insists upon. He knows the sound of shucking corn and comes running from wherever he’s napping. The ribbons of leaves that hang from the tips of the husks are his favorite summer snack. Pure bliss — it’s better than catnip, apparently.
I can understand Kitty Roo’s love of fresh greens. Although autumn’s arrival is a sweet, bear-hug of comfort (jeans weather, turning leaves, hot soup, and Halloween), I also dread the disappearance of summer’s endless supply of fresh veggies.
Just look at those lovelies. There’s no way this slaw couldn’t taste great.
As with most slaws, a nice stint in the fridge lets the dressing get all that with the veggies. The result is savory, crunchy, and entirely summery, even though it’s already post-Labor Day. (Boo.)
Crunchy Corn Slaw
2 ears of corn, kernels only (about 2 cups – don’t fret about the exact quantity)
1 small head of green cabbage (or 1/2 medium-large), shredded
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 palmful cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
(inspired by 101cookbooks.com)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon neutral oil
1/2 to 1 whole serrano chili pepper, chopped (for a light kick of heat, use 1/2 and remove the seeds; for extra heat oomph, use the whole chili, seeds intact)
1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 palmful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
juice from 1/2 of a lime
For the slaw: combine the vegetables and cilantro in a large mixing bowl, tossing lightly, and sprinkle with salt.
For the dressing: place all of the ingredients in the jar of a blender or, if using a stick blender, a tall container. Process until well-combined (about 15 seconds with either blender type).
Assemble: for a super-crunchy slaw, mix about half of the dressing with the vegetables, and place both the slaw and extra dressing (in a separate container) in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Add the remaining dressing just before serving.