A former beau and I used to puzzle over the existence of baby corn in Chinese food. We could never quite believe it was real -- as in not some funny faux product made in China. The kernels seemed completely fake. Could those tiny ears actually turn into the corn on the cob that we enjoyed every summer?
Plus, we never ever bumped into fresh baby corn -- not in restaurants or at farmers' markets. Our only rather sorry experiences were with the flavorless, canned baby corn.
Fast forward to many years later. Now, baby corn seems to show up every summer at a few excellent stalls at the farmer's market. Each year I forget all about it, and then the seasons change and I bump into these tiny ears at stalls like McGrath Family Farm.
If you think shucking a standard ear of corn is a pain-in-the-ass, you should really try a baby ear! They are so fragile and prone to snapping in half. The ratio of silk to actual corn is definitely not in your favor. All this being said, I think the payoff is big.
There is no denying the cute factor. And the kiddos love them. But the flavor is quite lovely as well, if you sauté them in a bit of olive oil or butter. The miniature corn turns a golden brown and takes on a slightly sweet nutty flavor. Just cook it until it is tender and tastes good to you. Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. It doesn't need much else -- at most a handful of chopped cilantro.
I bought the corn a week ago at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. I imagine we're probably running close to the end of the season for this little treasure, but perhaps there is a bit of time left.
Keep an eye out!