The succotash I grew up with — frozen lima beans and corn — hardly did justice to the ancient origins of this combination. Originally, it was a Native American dish using two of the oldest and most important foods in our culture, corn and beans. Succotash doesn’t seem to be well known in the Pacific Northwest but is chock-full of vegetables available now in our local markets and will make a great addition to your summer repertoire.
Sweet corn is best eaten on the day it’s picked. Alice Waters reminds us that seeing a worm at the tip is a good indication that no pesticides have been used and that, of course, is a good thing. Corn on the cob is one of the simplest ways to eat it, but I love corn cut off the cob. Wrap up a packet of cut corn dotted with butter in foil, and place on the grill with your meat or fish — couldn’t be easier.
There are several methods for cutting corn off the cob and lots of kitchen gadgets to make it easier. It seems the main issue is containing the kernels once they are cut. For years, I’ve been laying the corn on it’s side and cutting it that way. I could have sworn Charlie taught me that method.
When I asked him to help me me with these photos, I was informed he has a completely different method. At least he humored me by demonstrating the “old” method, which I still believe is a good one. The new and improved way is to first cut off the stem from the bottom (the stem might interfere with making a straight cut down the side) and then cut the ear in half.
This will give you a flat edge to set the ear on vertically. A shorter piece is easier to control too. Whichever method you prefer, to make this succotash, you need corn from two ears.
There are lots of ingredients but you can buy practically everything fresh from local vendors – the only essentials are corn & beans.
1 small onion – I used a red Torpedo onion from Willie Greens
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced – from Billy’s Organic
Kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn – from Rent’s Due Ranch
1 cup beans – traditionally limas but I used romano beans from Willie Greens , blanched and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced -from Mair Farm-Taki
1/4 cup chopped cilantro -from Stoney Plains Organic
1/4 cup chopped basil from Lets Us Farm (Tolt’s)
2 T butter
2 T dry white wine or vermouth
1/3 cup water
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 lbs large sea scallops
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pull the muscle off the side of the scallops and discard, pat dry with paper towels and salt lightly.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Using tongs, lower the scallops in, allowing them to brown well on one side, then flip over and brown on the other. Remove from the pan and set on a warm plate, loosely covered with foil while you cook the succotash.
Lower the heat, add onion and bell pepper to the same skillet you cooked the scallops in. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in corn, beans, wine or vermouth, water and 1t salt. Cook until the vegetables are nearly cooked through and 1/2 of the liquid boils away. Add the cucumber and cook for another minute. Stir in butter until it melts, then add cilantro and basil. Add any juice from the scallops. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon the succotash on plates and arrange the scallops on top.
This version of succotash was inspired by Jerry Traunfeld in The Herbal Kitchen.