Fresh corn sweetens salsa Combination: Red and green peppers, garlic, lime juice and Tabasco, plus kernels from grilled ears, add pizazz to salmon.


Let's celebrate one of the sweetest corn seasons in memory with salsa for dipping and topping some of your favorite foods.

Select corn picked in the morning because it is the coolest from the night air. First, look at the stalk end to identify a moist, full core, avoiding drier, shrinking stalks. Next, pull back the husk a -- little to expose the silk and kernels. The silk should be moist, almost sticky; kernels should be even in size and fullness. Avoid underdeveloped, shrunken kernels.

Corn must be kept cool to remain sweet. At room temperature, 60 percent of its original sugar will be lost in one day. Store corn in its husk, moistening it under cold, running water before refrigeration.

Choose your cooking method and enjoy your corn the day it is picked, if not within hours. Cook in boiling water with the husk on for one minute from the time the water returns to a boil after adding the corn. Husk afterward. This produces the purest corn flavor.

Develop a more concentrated flavor by cooking the corn in husks directly on a hot grill. Turn as the area exposed to heat is cooked, until corn is evenly grilled. Allow to cool in the husk before peeling. The flavor is stronger, and the kernels are firmer and a little dryer.

The flavor and color of roasted red and green peppers is a good match for the sweet corn. Roasted, mashed garlic, a splash of lime juice and a little bite of hot pepper highlight the earthy flavor of the corn.

Serve the salsa with corn chips for a cocktail snack or at a casual gathering. Try it atop a piece of grilled fish or chicken. Spice it hot or lace it with barbecue sauce for heartier grilled red meat. It's also a great flavor enhancer for your favorite grilled or steamed farm-fresh summer vegetables.

Grilled salmon with corn and poblano pepper salsa

Serves 4

4 escallops of salmon, about 5 to 6 ounces each, trimmed of fatty tissue, skinned and boned, rinsed

salt to taste

paprika or New Mexico chili powder

freshly ground black pepper to taste

corn and poblano pepper salsa (recipe follows)

sprigs of cilantro for garnish

Heat the grill. Brush the grates well to clean and then carefully brush lightly with oil to prevent sticking.

Season the salmon with salt, paprika and black pepper. Place the fish on the grill, cooking until well-seared, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook to desired temperature, about 3 to 5 minutes for medium, depending on the size and thickness of the escallop. Transfer to the center of the warm serving plates and top with the salsa. Garnish with the sprigs of cilantro and serve.

Corn and poblano pepper salsa

Makes 4 cups

4 ears fresh corn in the husk

4 poblano peppers, or substitute mild green bell peppers or any combination of peppers for taste, heat and color

4 cloves of roasted garlic, mashed

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

salt to taste

Tabasco or hot sauce to taste

1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried, leaves picked and chopped

1/4 cup olive oil or to taste, optional

Heat the grill. Place the corn on the grill, cooking until the area exposed to the heat is cooked. Rotate the ear of corn to the next area and cook. Repeat until the entire ear is evenly cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the husk and silk. Cut the kernels from the cob and reserve.

Meanwhile, roast the peppers on the grill until the skin exposed to the heat turns black and blisters. Repeat evenly on all sides. Transfer to a metal bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the skins, stem and seeds from the peppers. Cut into a dice about the size of the corn kernels. Combine with the corn.

Add the roasted garlic and lime juice to the corn and peppers. Combine and season generously with salt and Tabasco to taste. Add the cilantro and, if desired, the olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cook's note: To roast garlic, heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the garlic in a large, oven-proof dish. Place on the lower rack of the oven and cook until the skin is brown and the garlic is tender, about 30 minutes, depending on the size. (With a little pressure from your hand, garlic should easily come away from its skin). It will hold its natural shape but can be mashed with a fork. You can refrigerate the roasted garlic up to three days with or without its skin.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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