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grilled corn with miso butter

In eating in, sides, snacks, summer, vegetarian on 13 February, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Tonight I was actually going to get back to the next instalment of the pancake project (Parts 1 and 2 are here and here), and I’m sorry if you think it’s a bit repetitive of me to feature miso in two consecutive blog posts (sesame-miso cookies here!), but I couldn’t not share this, the most delicious of ways to eat corn on the cob.

The last couple days have been brilliantly sunny and for once I haven’t been moaning about the weather (er, sorry about that) but have been revelling in its gloriousness, running around outside at night bare-legged and bare-shouldered*, drinking cold beer and cider and eating salads and tacos and all the sweetcorn I can get my hands on. Doesn’t take much to make me ridiculously happy, apparently.

You know when corn is so fresh and sweet you can just bite into it raw, straight from the cob, each kernel bursting milky-sweet, slightly starchy juices into your mouth as you bite? The kind where you nearly eat the whole ear without bothering to cook it, only popping it in a pot of boiling water as an afterthought, “oh I bet this would taste pretty good cooked too”? This was that kind of corn.

Growing up I loved corn in the summertime. I mean, who doesn’t? But I never had it anything other than cooked until a few years ago, when I was back home in the States, and there was this guy at the local farmers’ market handing out raw sweetcorn for free. It’s so fresh and sweet, he was saying, just picked yesterday in Michigan, drove down this morning. I wasn’t sure whether the picked-yesterday bit was just a sales pitch but it worked; I was drawn in.** I didn’t know what was about to hit me but that first bite was a revelatory moment: cool, sweet, refreshing. If I could have drunk a glass of that juice, I would have; instead, I did the second-best thing I could think of and bought a half dozen ears of corn. I think I may have eaten one on the way home, peeling the husks off like a banana skin, though that could just be my imagination.

Ever since then, when summertime rolls around and sweetcorn starts getting cheaper and cheaper I’m always tempted to take a couple bites out of each ear, just in case it’s as sweet as that first bite. This summer, they’ve been pretty close. But I’m happy to cook corn, too.

In Japan in the summertime you often get 焼きとうもろこし (yaki-toumorokoshi) or just simply 焼きもろこし (yaki-morokoshi), sweetcorn usually flavoured with soy sauce and sometimes butter. The flavour’s so distinct that you can find chips, pretzels, even Kit Kats with yaki-morokoshi flavour. It’s got that addictive combination of saltiness and butteriness and the sweet, almost-caramelised crunch of the corn, the kernels just starting to crisp up at the edges. At summertime festivals when others would be headed for the takoyaki or shaved ice stalls I’d be on the lookout for some grilled corn. And in my own kitchen more recently, when I just need a snack, I’ll melt some butter on an ear of corn, drizzle some soy sauce over it, and savour that memory.

But I’ve discovered a new thing. Something even more glorious than soy sauce and butter: miso butter. I’d seen it mentioned in a couple forms in some Japanese cooking magazines (good old Lettuce Club and Orange Page again). I first tried it out a couple weeks ago on some corn I’d just boiled. I didn’t get the miso:butter ratio quite right, and I didn’t bother grilling the corn, but it was pretty damn good, an umami party on my tongue. I was sold on miso butter.***

This time I got it right. One part miso to two parts butter. Make sure the butter’s soft so the miso blends in nicely, but not melted, or it won’t blend in at all. Grill the corn, brushing miso butter over it from time to time so it melts right into the cracks and the surface gets all blistered and almost-charred and then, when you’re ready to serve, melt some more miso butter over the top and bite in and holy crap, YES.

*Who would’ve thought? In summer? My goodness.

**Actually, never mind, I’m drawn in by most samples, regardless of whether they’re accompanied by a tempting sales pitch…

***And, the next morning when I spread some on toast with a bit of honey? That was the reminder for me to make those miso cookies I’d been dreaming of. With great success.


Mix 1 tbsp miso into 2 tbsp softened* butter, stirring well until all the miso is blended in and it’s a nice smooth consistency. You can make the quantity greater or less; just use the 1:2 miso:butter ratio – easy enough to remember! Keep stored in the fridge where it will firm up a bit.

This is great on sweetcorn, but also anywhere you might want something buttery and rather salty. I can think of a few:

  • on toast, with honey
  • on French toast, with maple syrup**
  • to brush over some fish before baking/grilling
  • with green beans, or asparagus when it’s in season, or brussels sprouts
  • tossed through hot pasta or some boiled new potatoes

*room-temperature or slightly softer, but not melted

**I actually think I’m going to try this tomorrow morning. Will update with the results…


Grill your corn how you like, but slather some miso butter all over it before you do so it gets in the crevices and makes everything all salty and buttery. Here’s my lazy/non-BBQ-owning method:

First, slice up the cob into halves or thirds (or just leave it whole). Bring some water to the boil and add the corn, cook for a minute or two until it’s an eyepopping sunflower yellow. Remove from the pot.

Preheat the grill/broiler in your oven. Heat a ridged grill pan* until nice and hot, almost smoking. Coat the corn with miso butter (a pastry brush works great here) and place on the grill pan. Let it start to sear a bit on the bottom, then rotate it a bit, brush with more miso butter, and stick under the hot grill in the oven. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn, giving it a turn every now and then and brushing with a bit more miso butter. When it’s nice and golden brown, almost-burnt in places and the miso stuck between the kernels is beginning to caramelise, pull the pan out from the oven.

Brush with more miso butter if you like. Go on, do it.

*a cast-iron one that can go in the oven is ideal. If you don’t have one, just heat the grill in your oven, skip this step and chuck your corn in there on a baking tray, making sure to rotate and brush with extra butter.

  1. Lovely simple idea – will give it ago! Also the yellow/blue images – very SUMMERY! Now all we need is for the sun to say out!

  2. Mmm, more miso magnificence :D I love how Asian stuff is always enhanced by butter pretty much, but very few people seem to put butter in savoury Asian things. By the way do you have a certain miso brand you like using?

    • Mm, butter makes everything amazing I reckon! ;) They use it a bit in Japan – usually in the form of butter-shoyu, but you’re right, you don’t really see it much elsewhere. But it’s so damn good.

      Re: miso, I keep meaning to go into my fridge and look at what brand of miso I’ve got – it’s one I brought back from Japan. But since it was expensive I tend to save that one more for making miso soup… for baking and mass-miso applications I’ve been using regular aka miso I got from the supermarket here. Am not at home right now but I’ll have a look when I am! :)

  3. Gorgeous photos! I’ve tried miso butter in mashed potatoes before but never on corn! Sounds perfect.

  4. I’ve been havin gym corn with miso and soy but I am going to try your miso butter next

  5. Oh yes, I like this one :-)!


  6. Oh yes. We have been gorging ourselves with corn this summer. Corn has been particularly sweet this year. Not sure if it’s the freshness of the memory or if it really is.

    I haven’t ventured too far from the butter and light salt combo. I find the salt brings out the sweetness of the corn. This miso butter sounds delicious and should do the same trick the salt. So simple and I can see this being a hit at a bbq. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Just as I thought our love affair with fresh corn is coming to an end (we’ve been eating LOADS of it at home)…you’ve gone and shown me how I can rekindle the romance!

    Yes, yes…very corny…


  8. Love sweetcorn, it is so good at the moment :) Most definitely looking forward to some with some miso butter :)

  9. […] Grilled corn with miso butter @ Milliemirepoix […]

  10. ALL THE MISO! I’m really glad that soy sauce and butter is “a thing” because I was thinking today about how delicious that would be. Except I’ll try this first :)

    • Omg. Soy sauce and butter, is it ever a thing! If you’re ever in Japan, look out for anything with “butter-shoyu” flavour. Oh boy. It is the best.

  11. If my corn manages to turn into cobs I shall celebrate with this recipe. Sounds delicious and much better than the standard butter.

  12. I’ve made this corn twice in the last week and it’s an absolute winner. The miso butter is pretty good spread on crunchy toast too! Wonderful inspiration, thank you.

  13. it’s my first time at your blog and i’m loving it! I love the mix of east and west here! miso butter is a first for me. I probably will go ahead and make some to try on toast or something, it’s not the season for sweetcorn here in the uk yet, sadly!

  14. Zomg this was amazing. Your miso posts have been really inspiring – even Mark Bittman would agree :D http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/magazine/miso.html

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