“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou
One of my fondest memories growing up is of a lady nicknamed “Crabby.” Like clockwork, and at the beginning of every school summer break in Jamaica, Crabby set up a food stand selling sweet, buttery, crisp boiled corn on the cob, and boiled crab.
Before I get talking about this fond memory any further though, let me define “food stand.” Picture two to three large deep pots with sweet Jamaican boiling water on what might have been coal stoves. Buckets of live crab and corn being delivered throughout the day by hand cart, by Crabby’s husband. Now the most exciting part of this experience – my brother who is a year older than me became to be Crabby’s “little helper”. Oh yeah! My big brother working for Crabby meant free corn and crab for the whole summer for me and my sisters. And no, there was no getting tired of eating it! This was good Jamaican food by the roadside!
Here’s a recipe you’ll love as much as if you had experienced Crabby’s juicy corn on the cob. This dish was inspired by fond memories of summer, and ingredients native to where I spent my younger years, where thyme, scallion, coconut milk, scotch bonnet pepper, and the pimento seed are essential to home cooking.
8 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 stalks green onion (or scallion as we call it in Jamaica)
3 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon whole pimento seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt (optional) and whole peppercorn
2 cups coconut milk
To garnish (optional): ½ cup Parmesan, feta or Asiago cheese; 2 tablespoons chopped chives and cayenne pepper.
Remove the husks and silk from each corn, then rinse and place in a deep pot. Give the garlic and green onions a chop and place in the pot on top of the corn along with the thyme, pimento seeds, peppercorn and salt. Add the coconut milk. Fill the pot with cool water. Place lid on pot and bring corn to a boil on medium – high heat. Then remove the lid and reduce heat to bring the corn to a rolling boil for 10 – 12 minutes.
If you prefer to enjoy the natural sweetness and herbaceous nature of corn, skip the salt!
Load on the CORN-diments! Cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese, chives can all be used as a garnish. Add a squeeze of lime for an extra zing.
Why Coconut Milk? The coconut milk will give your cob a rich, buttery flavour. Cooked with herbs and spices, you can enjoy it as is, or you can elevate the taste of the dish with an extra topping of Chive-Infused Garlic Butter!
Ingredients: Chive-Infused Garlic Butter
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ scotch bonnet pepper, seeded
½ cup chives, chopped
Combine butter, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, and chives in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
Who doesn’t love fresh corn? Now that the ever anticipated summer in Canada has rolled around, it means this seasonal produce is at its freshest. Farmers markets and grocery stores are filled with buckets of corn for shucking. Get out there, get some, and bite into that crisp, juicy spray-pop of sweetness!
I never learned Crabby’s real name but she grew to love our little circle as much as we loved her…