Citizens, first off, please accept my apologies for being offline for so long – I’ve been traveling throughout Lapland and without connectivity, and have also been tied up with secret matters of state related to TFD Nation!
Now that I am back in Helsinki, Finland (with high-speed WiFi!) – allow me to share with you a simple but delicious recipe enjoyed not only in Japan, but also Hawai’i as well! I speak of course of Yaki Tomorokoshi – grilled sweet corn with miso butter!
The history of this recipe is actually quite recent, comparatively – corn was only introduced into Japan in the last few hundred years from South America.
As noted on the excellent site tokyofoundation.org:
The Portuguese are credited with first bringing corn to Japan in the sixteenth century. But it was not until the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912), when the Hokkaido Development Commission introduced American corn to Hokkaido, that corn came to be grown in Japan on any real scale.
As this northern land was too cold for rice farming, its people cultivated and ate corn either as a staple food or as kate—cereal grains mixed in with the staple grain to make up for the shortage.
Among the varieties that made its way into Hokkaido around this time, the Sapporo hachigyo and Longfellow, both of which are North American flint corns having eight rows of kernels, were particularly suited to the Hokkaido climate and soil. In 1905 these eight-rowed corns were given the official stamp of approval as “superior varieties.”
Venders selling freshly grilled corn on the cob are a fixture of summer on Sapporo Odori avenue in Hokkaido. It appears to have all started in 1892 when a local by the name of Teru Shigenobu went out with a brazier to the Sapporo streets, where she grilled homegrown ears of corn and sold them to passersby.
In 1908 the renowned poet Takuboku Ishikawa wrote a poem that went, “In the still and spacious town / Oh the aroma of corn / Grilling on an autumn night.” What captivated the poet was the fragrant smell of grilled corn—eight-rowed corn, no less—wafting through the broad streets of downtown Sapporo.
Eight-rowed corn was important not just as food, but also as a valuable crop that offered emotional support in the early years of modern Hokkaido development.
While today corn is a very minor cultivar in Japan, grilled corn has become a beloved winter treat in Hokkaido to this very day, and it is also wildly popular in Hawai’i, where many Japanese settled.
The use of miso butter adds an incredible umami flavor to the grilled sweet corn and this is by no means a difficult recipe to make. My version uses a specific blend of different miso types, but feel free to simply use the classic white miso if you so prefer.
Battle on – The Generalissimo