The history of corn in Japan and a recipe for chilled corn soup
My latest article in the Japan Times is about the history of corn (maize) in Japan. This New World plant entered the country fairly early on, in the 16th century, but didn’t get fully embraced until the latter half of the 19th century in the Meiji period, when animals started to be farmed for food on a large scale.
Hokkaido is the big corn growing area in Japan, and sweet corn products have become synonymous with this northernmost region of the country. Ramen from Hokkaido usually has sweet corn kernels in it, often mixed with another product that’s closely associated with the region, butter. This is a cookie from Hokkaido called Collet, with a corn flavored creamy filling and ground up corn in the cookie itself.
My article includes a recipe for chilled corn soup. It’s best made with fresh corn, but canned corn (whole kernels, not creamed) works well too. It’s made without roux, so it’s a lot quicker to make and barely needs any cooking. It’s also gluten free. One caveat though: I’ve found that you need to eat the soup as soon as it’s made, or it tends to separate. You can try blitzing it again in a food processor or blender. If you want to get it going in advance, just do everything up to sautéing the corn and onions, then just blitz up the soup before serving.
My recipe for a more conventional creamy corn soup is here — that version is thickened with roux.