Hitonari Tsuji

8th August, 2023

I spent my pre-adolescence in Obihiro in Hokkaido. Corn was the local crop, so I ate a lot of it back then. I still remember the sweet smell of it when my mother prepared it in summer. Rice with a little butter mixed in with the corn kernels, with a drizzle of soy sauce. A real delight. It was THE recurring hit dish in my family. It couldn't be easier: remove the leaves and strands, then cook the maize in boiling salted water. Simple but effective. All you need is fresh corn. Freezing it spoils its flavour.

Allow me to digress for a moment. When I was at high school, I lived in Hakodate, still in Hokkaido, and there was a little restaurant called "California baby" run by the Shibata brothers, which still exists. The speciality is 'Sisco rice'. The rice is steamed with a mix of chopped vegetables. It is then pan-fried with butter, topped with grilled sausage and tomato sauce with minced beef before being served. It's high in calories, but frighteningly effective. A far from refined dish, but at the time, it was everything I loved.

All that to say that I love corn. Since it's the season, I thought I'd make some corn rice for my dear Nicolas, who's staying with me at the moment. I'm using an earthenware pot, the donabe, which is so dear to Japanese cuisine, and butter, so it's a dish at the crossroads of our cultures. It's simple and delicious, so I'm sharing the recipe with you.

To start with, here are the ingredients
1 ear of corn
400 ml water
15 grams sake
5 grams salt
15 g butter
10 cm konbu
 5 g soy sauce
300 g rice

Leave the rice to stand in the water in the pot. 
Remove the corn kernels using a kitchen knife, sliding it along the length of the cob. Coarsely loosen the kernels by hand. Add them to the pot with the remaining stalk. 
Add the konbu, sake, salt, soy sauce and butter. 
Start cooking. Bring to the boil and cook over a very low heat for 13 minutes. Set aside with the lid on for a further 10 minutes.
When serving, season with sesame seeds and extra soy sauce. 

This corn rice goes very well with tempura or udon. If you have any left over, you can add sliced carrots, ham or sausage and fry them in garlic oil. Add pepper to taste. 
In short, corn cooked in donabe and seasoned with soy sauce is a guaranteed success.
Enjoy your meal!

Hitonari Tsuji