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Ling Zheng was a late bloomer. To be fair, she had spent six years pursuing a double major in math and economics when she found her true passion. After switching from numbers and graphs to pots and pans, Zheng did stints in Toronto and Shanghai before starting Grub, one of the freshest and busiest bistros on the South Main strip. Beloved by carnivores and vegans alike (the meatless options reach far beyond mushroom risotto), the small, whimsical space boasts an ever-changing fresh board that is a direct reflection of Zheng’s experimental approach to seasonal food. Even something as simple as an ear of corn sparks her creativity, resulting in gems like our featured online recipe, spicy Southern corn pudding with avocado-lime crème fraîche.
For fresh corn, Zheng heads across the street. “We just take our bags here and go outside,” she says, pointing out a number of small family-owned produce shops all nearby the restaurant, like East West Market (4169 Main St., 604-873-8082) and 9-10 Supermarket (4355 Main St., 604-873-6368). At the height of corn season, Zheng treks to roadside vendors in Abbotsford or Chilliwack like Sparkes Corn Barn (various locations, 604-794-0198.) but says that in September you can’t really go wrong, as most Lower Mainland corn is picked and sold that day.
To see if you’ve grabbed a good ear, Zheng recommends cracking open the top and looking for nice fat kernels going all the way up. Don’t totally remove the husk, though, since corn keeps best in its natural jacket. Husk-on is also the best way to roast them in the oven (350° F for 15 to 20 minutes). If you’re looking for the youngest and sweetest corn, puncture one of the kernels with your fingernail. If the liquid comes out milky, you found what you’re looking for. But Zheng says less sweet varietals, with enhanced texture, are actually better for barbecuing.
4328 Main St., 604-876-8671 Grub.com
Cheesy Southern Sweet Corn Pudding
2 tbp of butter2 cups of fresh corn kernel1/2 cup of fine diced red peppers1/2 cup of diced yellow onion1 Serrano pepper, finly chopped 1 cup of cream2 large eggs1/4 cup of fine cornmeal1/2 cup of grated jack cheeses1/2 cup of grated sharp aged cheddar1/2 tbp of crystal salt ( if using finer grained salt, reduce amount by roughly 1/3)1tsp of black pepper1 tbp of fresh squeezed lime juice.
Sauté onion, Serrano pepper and red pepper in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes Add corn and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes , let the mixture cool slightly
Whisk cream and eggs together, add cornmeal slowly while whisking to avoid lumpAdd corn and pepper mixture, cheese and seasoning, mix well .
Pour the mixture in to individual remikin or shallow baking dish.
Bake at 375 for 40 to 45 min. In water bath.
Makes 4 servings.