This year, summer didn’t get off to a good start here. Torrential rain that killed many, weeks of sustained high temperature beyond 35°C and one after another came a dangerous typhoon — if not the great summer’s harvest, this hot season really isn’t quite my favourite.
Every summer, Japan harvests the heavenly, most voluptuous sweet corns on earth.
Because this is the only time to enjoy freshly picks, we simply can’t get enough of. Not only low in fat and sodium, free of cholesterol and a good source of Vitamin C, its natural refreshing sweetness helps to ease summer heat just like watermelon.
Being a warm-weather crop that thrives under hot temperatures, do you know sweetcorns taste brilliantly sweeter, addictively more flavourful and fully higher in nutrients when you harvest them between July to August?
Japanese called this period “season of shun 旬”. Living near small farms here in the suburbs, we couldn’t be more grateful for the totally homegrown, absolutely tip-top sweetcorns we get to enjoy throughout the whole season!
What to do with such wondrously fresh sweetcorns on hands?
They are amazingly versatile in the kitchen! Whether to cook them in salted boiling water, tempura-fry them in batter or grill them whole with butter and salt in an oven — they proved nothing but irresistible.
My daughter is especially fond of my creamy corn soup which tastes pretty good both hot and cold. Whereas, I prefer to pair them fresh and raw with a Japanese-style veggie dip, negi-miso.
Japanese mothers, on the other hand, wouldn’t give this a miss.
Creatively combining fluffy plain rice and a range of colourful seasonal ingredients with an umami-laden seasoning, Takikomi-gohan 炊き込みご飯 is a traditional rice dish which Japanese families heartily eat while enjoying a new season.
In summer, they use freshly-harvested sweetcorns with a particularly sublime seasoning, Bataa-shoyu バター醤油 to make this delectable Takikomi-gohan with sweetcorns ともろこしご飯.
Not only the corns add a wonderful sweet fragrant to the steam rice, the simple yet epic fusion of butter and Japanese soy sauce packs the dish an extra umami punch. Butter being inherently tasty, works very well as a flavour carrier too. So when mixed with soy sauce which made mainly from fermented soybeans, its earthy and umami flavour are being efficiently carried into the dish.
Grab yourself some fresh corns to make this totally addictive one-pot or you might have to wait until next season. Recipe is as follows ↓↓
For 3-4 persons
Prep time 10 mins, cook time 50mins
(depends on your cooker)
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2 cups of short-grain rice (400ml)
2 cups of water (400ml)
1 tsp of salt
1 ear of corn
1/3 of a medium-size carrot, diced
100g of ham, diced (optional)
A large knob of butter
2 Tbsp of Koikuchi dark soya sauce
Spring onion, chopped
Black pepper, for sprinkle
1 Cut carrot.
Peel away the skin and cut carrot into strips, then small dices.
2 Remove kernels from the ear.
Remove green outer husk and silky threads completely. Cut corn into halves if you want. Hold one of it upright, in a top-down direction slide your knife downwards closely to core, to remove the kernels.
3 Wash rice.
Place rice in a large bowl, half-fill with water. Gently swirl rice with your hand to bring out dirt and bran. Discard water once it turned milky. Add a new round of water and repeat steps for second time.
Transfer washed rice to a rice cooker and put in the correct amount of water required for 2 cups (400ml) of rice.
4 Combine carrots and corn kernels with rice.
Add salt, diced carrots and corn kernels into rice and combine them well. *If you are including strips of ham, put them in as well.
5 Cook and season rice.
Lastly, place the bare cob on top of rice and set to cook according to your cooker’s instruction. When it’s ready, remove the cob. Add a knob of butter and soya sauce. Fluff up the rice thoroughly to make sure each grains are evenly seasoned. Ready to serve.
Freshly picked sweetcorn is best to be consumed on the day of harvest. If not, at least the next day.
For best results, use only fresh sweetcorns. You can also replace it with 100-120g of frozen corns, but allow them to thaw completely before adding into the cooker.
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To save/print recipe, click here.