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Corn on the cob with tahini

Sat, 9 September, 2023

Corn on the cob cooked an unbelievably easy way, slathered with a flavour bomb of tahini butter. And it’s cooked in the husk!

corn on the cob with tahini

Pick your own sweetcorn

I was waxing lyrical the other week about sweetcorn and weeping into my beer about how it was nay impossible to procure fresh, ripe sweetcorn in the husk in the UK. And then as if by magic, I discovered that a Pick Your Own farm in my locality had ripe sweetcorn, whole fields of it, just become available for picking. I think I’m in heaven.

So I’m having corn on the cob and corn off the cob. I’m eating sweetcorn buttered and spiced. I’m having it creamy and I’m having it cheesy. With tomatoes and with bacon. I’m having it for lunch and for dinner. Mexican sweetcorn esquites in Hertfordshire. I have sweetcorn coming out of my ears! (hehe did you see what I’ve done there?)

sweetcorn with tahini butter

Sweetcorn fun facts

Sweetcorn is also known as maize, sugar corn, corn on the cob or pole corn. It’s not a vegetable – it’s a cereal, but it is picked when still immature (the milk stage), prepared and eaten as a vegetable, unlike other cereals which are harvested when the kernels are dry and mature (dent stage).

But you probably aren’t aware of the fact that ‘sweetcorn’ or ‘corn on the cob’ is just a bonus crop. Because past that milk stage, corn, now known as field corn, continues in the field until the kernels in their husks are completely dried, just like wheat or barley.

And that’s what all the corn-related products like cornmeal, masa harina that makes tortillas, corn flour, corn oil and corn syrup are produced from. The dried kernels, matured on the stalk, are harvested as the main corn crop, usually in late summer or early autumn.

corn ears

Old as the corn fields

Corn was first domesticated by native peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. It is probably derived from a type of wild grass, Balsas teosinte. Widespread cultivation occurred since throughout both Americas, and the Iroquois tribes introduced it to European settlers in late 18th century.

Of course it had been brought to Europe much earlier than that, with the usual culprit, Christopher Columbus. But it didn’t immediately sprout here because folks didn’t quite know how to grow it. It really caught on in Europe only after World War II, mainly brought over from America in tins.

These days it’s grown from 58 degrees North latitude in Russia and Canada to 40 degrees South in South America, and a crop matures somewhere in the world almost every month of the year. Including late August in Aylesbury Vale.

microwaved sweetcorn with tahini topping

The easiest way to cook sweetcorn

You can boil it or grill it or roast it, you can slice kernels off the cob and cook them however you fancy, but the absolute winner is the humble microwave.

Microwave effectively steams vegetables and that's actually how restaurants often blanch their veg. And corn on the cob's husk is its natural packaging, microwave ready.

All you do is place it on a mickey-friendly plate and zap it at full power for about 2-2 ½ minutes per ear, depending on the size of the ears. Let it cool a minute, and then you can peel back the husk, pulling off and discarding the silk as you go, thus shaping a beautiful, funky sweetcorn rocket, ready to eat, holding it by the husky tail (haha).

peeling off husk

Tahini butter

And then of course you can spread whatever you fancy over the warm kernels, but the tahini butter from the recipe below is hard to beat.

As long as your butter is softened and your tahini is well-stirred, just beat all the ingredients with a spoon into smooth paste. Chill it in the fridge before using, so it’s not too melty on encounter with the corn.

It’s delicious, and the best thing is it stays on the cob when slathered all over. Unlike butter which always annoyingly melts off into a puddle buttering the plate, rather than the cob.

making tahini butter

Other toppings for sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is innocuous in taste (some mean people call it bland) so it goes well with the fiery and the sour, the hot and the herby.

Some of my favourite toppings include Chinese crispy chilli oil; furikake, the Japanese seasoning; miso butter (made similarly to tahini butter); cream cheese; Emmental slices; fig jam and ketchup. Judge me if you want.

steamed sweetcorn with tahini flavoured butter

More sweetcorn recipes

Mexican street sweetcorn salad, esquites, with sweetcorn off the cob cooked in the frying pan, mixed with a salty, herby, spicy, cheesy dressing, is the second best thing after a holiday to Cancun!

Chilli con corn – vegetarian sweetcorn chilli with beans goes well with tortillas, baked potatoes or nachos. Corn on the cob cooked with classic chilli flavours – the fresher the ears of corn, the better!

Fresh corn, bacon and avocado salad with crumbled feta and furikake seasoning, on a bed of iceberg lettuce: one of the best main course salads ever.

More tahini recipes

Fresh cucumbers with cumin tahini dressing, sprinkled with extra sesame seeds are crunchy, juicy and wonderfully refreshing. Try them as a side for beef burger patties.

Sweet potatoes baked in foil, topped with tahini butter are a fabulous fiesta of flavours. Recipe adapted from NY Times Cooking.

Salmon and sweet potato baked in tahini sauce is a quick and easy, delicious supper with flavours inspired by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes.

corn in husk cooked in microwave

Corn on the cob with tahini

Servings: 2Time: 10 plus chilling


  • 2 ears of corn in husks, as fresh as possible
  • For the tahini butter:
  • 50g (3 tbsp) salted butter, softened
  • 50g (3 tbsp) tahini
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp flaky salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 garlic clove


1. Peel off excess leaves from each husk, leaving full coating. Trim the silk from the top with scissors.

2. To make the tahini butter, place all the ingredients in a bowl. Peel the garlic clove and grate or press it in. Beat the mixture with a spoon until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning, chill the butter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. Place the sweetcorn on a microwavable plate and microwave on full power for 5 minutes. If you’re cooking more ears, scale up the time by 2 ½ minute per ear.

4. Remove the sweetcorn from the microwave and peel the husk off to expose the kernels, pull off silk if you like.

5. Slather the tahini butter over the sweetcorn, sprinkle with salt flakes and serve.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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