One of the oldest and best of the truly American dishes enjoyed all across our country is corn pudding. Sweet, just-ripe summer corn freshly cut from its cob, delicately seasoned and bound in a rich custard. It’s so popular that many Americans may be better acquainted with its out of season version made with canned cream-style corn. But while that’s good, it simply can’t compare with one made from fresh-from-the-field corn so naturally sweet that some old cookbooks suggested serving it with wine sauce as a dessert.
In the Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry, corn comes into season just as the region’s tidal creeks and inlets are teeming with tiny but intensely sweet inlet shrimp. Local cooks make wide use of these delectable little crustaceans: marinated in a spicy bath of oil and lemon juice for a piquant hors d’oeuvres; folded into a velvety salad for sandwiches or for filling hollowed-out vine-ripe tomatoes; baked in the bright, herbal casing of the season’s first sweet bell peppers; and, of course, in that now widely celebrated pairing of shrimp and grits.
Not surprisingly, Lowcountry cooks also love to pair this seasonal delicacy with fresh corn. Their natural sweetness makes them ideal complements. Corn also adds sweetness and delicacy to the heftier large shrimp from deeper waters that are more readily found in other parts of the country and gives a lift to shrimp that have been frozen. The secret is to use the freshest, sweetest, most tender young corn that you can find.
—By Damon Fowler