I was looking for a new way to accommodate fresh corn when I read that umeboshi paste is delicious smothered on grilled corn on the cob instead of butter and salt. I became intrigued, bought it and decided to experiment with it. Let me warn you, not everybody will like it!
The ume plum comes from trees that grow in the Japanese mountains. Called umeboshi (literally meaning dried plum), it has been a staple of Japanese cuisine and medicine for centuries with mention in medicinal treaties dating back 1,000 years.
The ume plum is always pickled and brings a very tangy and salty, even somewhat sour, flavor to salad dressings, sauces, vegetables, soups and sushi.
It is not cheap when of good quality, and you will use it sparingly due to its strong flavor. You can buy the whole dried plums or the paste. You have to be careful when you buy it. It has to be the real deal, and not the colored and cheap paste of uncertain origins.
It is so strong, it’s like a wake up call for your body and senses! Eating umeboshi is like a palate and digestive tract “car wash” experience. It is still a breakfast tradition in Japan, eaten with rice. It is said that is awakens all of your senses and gets your digestive tract going for the day.
Japanese pickled plums have remarkable medicinal qualities. They taste very tart but have an alkalizing effect on the body. Japanese medicine has used this plum for treating multiple ailments from fatigue, to slow digestion, to use as a toxin detoxifier and antiseptic.
The paste is used to preserve cooked rice. In the past the pickled plum was the soldier’s most important battle survival ration, often eaten wrapped in rice. It is also recommended as a portable and invigorating snack when needing food for endurance.
So here is the recipe. The combination of sweet uncooked corn, sweet peppers and peeled clementines gives the salad a nice sweet flavor. The addition of umeboshi brings the tartness. The peppers and cucumber give the salad a little crunch. You can find umeboshi in specialty shops or online. I bought the brand “Eden” at Whole Earth Center in Princeton, NJ.
For 6 portions you will need (as an appetizer):
– 6 ears of fresh sweet corn
– 3 to 4 sweet small sweet orange peppers
– Half of a small cucumber, peeled
– 2 clementines, peeled
– Apple cider vinegar (or any wine vinegar if you’d rather)
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– Umeboshi paste
– Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife and reserve in a bowl. The salad would be also excellent with cooked/canned corn. Make sure there is no juice from the can left.
– Peel the clementines and get rid of the inner skin. Cut in small chunks, over the corn. You want to make sure not to lose the juice.
– Peel and chop the cucumber into very small cubes. Chop the sweet peppers as well.
– Prepare your vinaigrette: for the vinaigrette, mix 4 tbsps. olive oil with 2 tbsps. apple cider vinegar. You could also try sake vinegar!
Serve plated with a tablespoon of umeboshi paste on the side, like in the picture. Some people will mix the perfect amount of umeboshi with the corn.