I ran into the wonders of corn shoots at the Union Square market recently. The explosive sweetness of corn, along with a mild hint of anise, are packed into these seemingly innocuous, yellow salad greens. The corn shoots appear innocent enough, but their intense flavors completely shocked and overwhelmed me.
I recently picked up a lovage plant, as I've always loved the fresh celery flavor of the herb I first tasted years ago while working in the kitchen at 11 Madison Park. I envisioned dressing the corn shoots with a fruity olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some of the chopped lovage leaves.
Considering the intense flavor of this little salad, I immediately began thinking of pairing these flavors with a meaty fish like scallops, but then noticed the first soft shell crabs I'd seen in quite some time. I can't pass up soft shell crab, so I paired the corn shoot salad with a crispy soft shell crab seared in olive oil, garlic and finished with a squeeze of lemon. (I rarely enjoy soft shell crab with a thick batter coating. Pan searing allows a very crispy texture, without masking the crab with a thick crust).
The crispy and subtly sweet crab is a great match for the herbal, sweet and explosive flavors of the corn shoot lovage salad. Every bite made me thankful for the wonders of Spring that will be in my kitchen for the next few weeks.