I read that the average head of sweetcorn has 800 kernels, all lined up in 16 neat rows, and each of those kernels is a seed in its own right. While we eat sweetcorn as a vegetable, it is, technically speaking, a grass, being a variety of maize that is harvested when the ears are immature. 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 when they are dry, and eaten as a grain. When you eat the kernels of sweetcorn whole, be that gnawing them off the cob or after shaving off the kernels first, the starch element is retained in each seed, making the dominant experience of eating fresh corn one of tender, juicy sweetness.
Today we are using that beautiful sweet seed of the grass in a slaw with cabbage and carrot. The sweetcorn is grilled first, intensifying the sweetness, before being mixed with a mustard dressing and the slaw ingredients.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
In fact, it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar dishes include Grilled Corn with Miso-Tamarind Mayo, Summer Roll Salad, Red Cabbage Slaw with Barberries, Crunchy Root Vegetable Slaw, Salad with Swiss Cheese and Rye, Sweetcorn and Tomato Salad, and Roasted Sweetcorn and Avocado Salad.
Browse all of our Sweetcorn dishes, our Sweetcorn Salads and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.
Grilled Sweetcorn Slaw
100ml white wine vinegar
sea salt and black pepper
0.25 white cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, julienned
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 corn cobs, lightly brushed with olive oil
2 red chillies, finely chopped
20g picked coriander leaves
20g picked mint leaves
2 tspn Dijon mustard
1.5 tspn sunflower oil
1 Tblspn lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Put the vinegar, water and a tablespoon of salt into a small saucepan, bring up to a boil and remove from the heat.
Put the cabbage and carrot in a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the salty liquid and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining liquid over the onion and, again, set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the vegetables and onion, pat dry, put in a large bowl and set aside.
Put a ridged grill pan on a high heat and, when it is very hot, lay the corn on it. Chargrill for 10-12 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour. If the smoke worries you, grilling on a BBQ is an option. Remove the corn from the heat and, when cool enough to handle, use a large knife to shave off the corn in clumps and add to the salad bowl.
Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chilli, coriander and mint, along with a grind of black pepper, give it another gentle stir and serve.