Feature

Recipe of the week: Corn salsa with tomato

Corn's natural sweetness makes it “an exemplary foil” for salsa’s tartness and heat.

Fresh corn is wonderful in a salsa, but getting the texture right can be a challenge if you’re not grilling the corn, said Keith Dresser in Cook’s Illustrated. I recently tried the obvious alternative, but even two minutes of boiling “destroyed the freshness that I was trying to retain.” Then I started experimenting with the ancient Mesoamerican technique of using limewater to soften corn. Now I add a touch of baking soda to boiling water and steep the corn in the water as it cools. The tactic works “like magic,” bringing out the natural sweetness that makes corn “an exemplary foil” for salsa’s tartness and heat.

Corn salsa with tomato

3 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (2¼ cups)¼ tsp baking sodasalt2 tbsp lime juice 1 tbsp vegetable oil½ tsp honey1 tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch pieces1 shallot, minced1 jalapeño, seeded and minced¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Bring 2 cups water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in corn, baking soda, and ¼ tsp salt; remove pan from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Drain corn and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. 

Whisk lime juice, oil, honey, and 1/8 tsp salt together in a bowl. Add corn, tomato, shallot, jalapeño, and cilantro; toss to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve atop chicken or fish or with corn chips. Makes 3 cups.

Alternatives: Instead of the tomato, make a corn salsa using an avocado with three scallions and a pinch of cayenne, plus ½ tsp toasted cumin seeds. A peach also works well, mixed with 4 sliced radishes, basil (instead of the cilantro), and minced habanero instead of jalapeño.

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