Welcome to The Storied Recipe Podcast! My podcast guest, Eartha Lowe, shared this recipe for Jamaican Coconut Corn on the Cob Cooked in Milk with Spicy Chive Butter. She has warm memories of the couple who sold this corn, along with hot crab legs, from a cart in Jamaica. I invite you to listen to her episode while you try her juicy, sweet, flavor-infused buttery corn!
This boiled corn recipe from podcast guest Eartha Lowe is pure genius - our family's favorite way to cook corn! Standard recipes for cooking corn call for boiling the cob in a large pot of water, then trying to add flavor later by slathering slippery, messy ingredients on at the end.
But Eartha's vegan take on milk-boiled corn brings out the natural flavors of the fresh sweet corn - and infuses flavor into every single kernel from the beginning - by boiling the corn in coconut milk. Eartha adds thyme and scallions to the milk to deepen and layer the flavors.
And of course, there's still no shame in adding on her warm, salty, spicy chive butter at the end! It's just that you won't need to if you don't want to!
This is perfect for the 4th of July with fresh summer corn or a spicy side dish for Thanksgiving. Pair it with Jumbalaya or ???
Eartha's Memory of Jamaican Corn on the Cob with Coconut Milk
Who doesn't love fresh corn? With summer months come farmers markets and grocery stores filled with buckets of corn for shucking. Get out there, get some, and bite into that crisp, juicy spray-pop of sweetness!
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 by the roadside selling sweet, buttery, crisp boiled corn on the cob, and boiled crab. Buckets of live crab and corn were delivered throughout the day by Crabby's husband who would push all the ingredients in a hand cart; walking miles at a time bursting with feel-good positivity in reggae chants.
Now the most exciting part about this memory is that my brother who is a year older than me, got to be Crabby's “little helper.” My big brother working for Crabby meant free corn and crab for the whole summer for me and my two younger sisters. My brother would run down the street late morning excited to begin stirring the pots and serving customers. At the end of each day working for Crabby, my brother would run home proud to feed his siblings. And no, there was not getting tired of eating Crabby’s food. This was good Jamaican food prepared in large, deep pots on top of coal stoves bubbling with aroma by the roadside.
I cook this recipe the way Crabby unknowingly inspired my imagination. You will love the sweetness and herbaceous nature of Crabby’s Sweet Corn On The Cob as much as if you had experienced her cooking. This dish is 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.
I never learned Crabby's real name but she grew to love our little circle as much as we loved her.
Listen to Eartha's Story
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Is white corn the same as yellow?
- Obviously, not all corn is the same. However, the differences in flavors cut across kernel colors. The color doesn't determine anything about the ripeness, sweetness, or freshness of the corn.
- Three levels of sweetness in corn and both white and yellow at every level
- So, pick whatever you like best. Yellow has a certain golden summery glow and white is a little more elegant - just personal preference.
How to choose best corn?
When you head to the local farmer's market or grocery store, here's what to look for in your corn cobs :
- Bright green husks
- Tight-fitting, fresh-looking silk
- Plump but not oversized kernels
Can I use frozen corn?
Yes! You can use frozen corn on the cob. Bring the boiling liquid to a boil before adding the corn and cooking for 5 minutes, then allow to sit, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Cooking Liquid Key Ingredients
This is the key to infusing each and every plump kernel with rich flavor!
- Choose full fat coconut milk
- Many recipes call for sugar or brown sugar. Eartha believes - and I agree - that the corn is already sweet enough and the coconut milk will enhance that flavor
- Kosher Salt is a bit of a toss-up. You can add it for a salty flavor BUT it can toughen the corn. Go with your own preference on this.
Fresh Herby Flavor
- Scallions and thyme, in addition to the coconut milk, give this corn that Jamaican flavor that Eartha so generously shared with us!
- You'll want to use fresh sprigs of thyme, although you could use dried in a pinch. (No pun intended 😉 Just add about a teaspoon to the cooking liquid.
Spicy Chive Butter
- Choose vegan regular butter based on your own dietary choices.
- I like salted butter, personally, as I love salt but I don't prefer to add it to the water/milk as it makes the corn tough.
- Careful with the scotch bonnet!!!! If you haven't tried this Caribbean favorite before, definitely consider if you and your guests can handle its heat. Substitute with the much milder jalapeno if you need to.
Why Would I Boil Corn in Milk?
This method of cooking makes the corn sweet and flavorful right down to the cob. For great flavor, this is much superior to boiling in flavorless water, then attempting to add flavor with additional butter on top afterwards.
Boiling Corn on the Cob - Time
Fresh corn doesn't need as much cooking time as you may think. The best method combines boiling time and resting time.
- Add the corn, cover, and bring to a boil. This can take up to 10 minutes.
- Remove the top and boil for 2 minutes.
- Finally, turn off the heat and allow the corn to sit in the hot liquid for another 10 minutes.
- Check and give it another 5 minutes if not done.
How Do I Know When My Corn Is Done?
- Pierce with a fork or sharp knife. It's done if the kernals are tender.
- Use tongs to remove each cob and allow to drip dry - it won't take long.
- Place corn on a serving platter
- A large stockpot
- Some people like these corn holders. I don't own any, but they may be worth it if you eat corn on the cob regularly.
How to Freeze Fresh Corn
- If you're not going to eat fresh corn within 48 hours of purchasing it, prepare the corn for cooking by removing the husks and silk. Then break the corn in half and freeze in an airtight gallon Ziplock bag.
What to Do with Leftover Corn Boiled in Milk
- Once the corn is cooked, I suggest eating it the same day, preferably, or the next day at the latest.
More Side Dishes
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Pair with These Caribbean Dishes
These are my favorite dishes to serve with [this recipe]: