Sweetcorn should be cooked in boiling water with a little sugar but not salt. | Marc Fosh


I watched the farmers harvesting their sweetcorn around the fields of our restaurant in Canyamel this week and I must admit that enjoying the joys of sweetcorn is actually something quite new for me. To be honest, I always found it a little bland and I was probably guilty of treating it almost with disdain as if it were somehow a second-class, inferior ingredient.

It didn’t help when uninspired chefs would constantly use baby sweetcorn as a garnish for practically every main course because they thought it somehow looked cool. Luckily those days seem to be over and I have also learnt to cherish the merits of this amazingly sweet, crisp golden vegetable.

Although we may actually call it a vegetable, it is, technically speaking, a grass. It is harvested young and as a result, the sugar content in the kernels is much higher than it is in other varieties of maize, which are harvested at a much later stage, once they are dry, and eaten as a grain. The average corncob has 800 kernels, all lined up in 16 neat rows, and each of those kernels is a seed in its own right. It’s also highly nutritious and gluten free.

Whole sweetcorn is simply delicious steamed or better still, barbecued and served with a little melted butter, lemon juice and grated Parmesan cheese, but it also marries well with chicken (especially corn-fed birds). Its natural sweetness also brings out the best in scallops, prawns and crabs and it is perfect for tasty purees and delightful soups. Classically sweetcorn also lends itself to strong flavours like chilli, coriander and lime; think bold Mexican salsas and spicy tuna salads.

Sweetcorn should be cooked in boiling water with a little sugar but not salt, which can make the kernels tough. After cooking, season the cobs with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with lots of melted butter. Alternatively, cut the kernels straight off the cob and get inspired with these simple recipes!


Ingredients serves 4

450g sweetcorn kernels

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large potato, peeled & diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small green chilli, deseeded & chopped

2tsp Mexican spice mix

1 litre fresh chicken stock

75g pancetta slices

Cream, to serve (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, garlic & chilli. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes or until just softened. Add the Mexican spice mix, sweetcorn & potatoes. Cover with the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the pancetta into pieces and fry until crisp. Remove to kitchen paper to soak up excess fat.

Remove the soup from the heat and blend to a smooth puree. Season to taste, pass through a fine sieve and then ladle into bowls. Scatter with the crispy pancetta and a drizzle of cream. Serve immediately.


Ingredients serves 4

500g rigatoni pasta

2tbsp olive oil

40g plain flour

500ml milk

200g grated cheese (gruyere or cheddar)

50g grated Parmesan cheese

300g tinned sweetcorn, drained

300g tinned tuna, drained

5-6 basil leaves, torn


Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Boil the rigatoni pasta for 8 minutes or until al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, and then gradually stir in the milk to make a thick white sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheddar cheese.

Drain the pasta, mix with the white sauce, tuna, sweetcorn and basil leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and top with the grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown. Serve immediately.


Ingredients Serves 4

150g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

2 eggs

130 ml milk

2 tbsp yellow Thai curry paste

140g sweetcorn kernels

A small bunch spring onions , chopped

A small bunch coriander leaves, chopped

140g raw peeled prawns , chopped

Olive oil , for frying

Sweet chilli sauce , to serve

Tip the flour, baking powder and a good pinch of salt into a bowl.

Whisk in the eggs and milk to form a thick smooth batter.

Stir the curry paste into the batter and mix well until combined.

Add the sweetcorn, chopped spring onions, coriander and prawns.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan until hot. Fry large spoonfuls of the batter at a time (do this is batches), for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.

Serve with sweet chilli sauce.