Corn is considered a staple food around the world and is widely eaten in many countries. It has many names in Japan, such as tomorokoshi (とうもろこし), tokibi (とうきび), morokoshi (もろこし), nanba (なんば), and so on. There are many delicious dishes made of corn that are worth trying, and there is one that especially stands out: grilled corn on the cob, or yaki tomorokoshi (焼きとうもろこし), one of Japan’s many delicious street foods.
Preparing your own grilled corn on the cob is very easy as it requires only a few steps. Firstly, you need to make a fine mixture of soy sauce, mirin (みりん), and sugar by heating them together until it becomes a caramelized glaze. Secondly, you need a charcoal grill or broiler to grill the corn on the cob, and a sheet to apply the glaze.
It is better to dip the corn in olive oil and sea salt on the sheet for a better taste, and for it to grill properly. Thirdly, grill the corn until it becomes slightly brown and apply the glaze you prepared. Repeat this a few times until it has a bright golden brown color all over.
Note that preparing the glaze can be tricky as it could burn if you are not careful. Remember to use gloves during the charcoal grilling process as sometimes kernels on the corn can burn or pop due to the starch inside.
Shichimi togarashi is grounded chili pepper mixed with several ingredients such as garlic, ginger, nori seaweed (のり), shiso (シソ), sesame, poppy seed, hemp seed, and citrus, producing a delicious blend of seven different flavors. It is a spicy condiment used to enrich the taste of noodles or soups or any grilled food item, including yaki tomorokoshi.
In addition to the aforementioned glaze, you can also sprinkle some shichimi togarashi on the grilled corn to add extra flavor. You can prepare the condiment in your house by yourself if you have all the right ingredients, or you can buy it from most Japanese supermarkets or online. This spice mix is used not only on grilled items but also on plain cooked rice, popcorn, or avocado toast for additional taste.
Yaki tomorokoshi can be seen a lot during summer festivals anywhere in Japan. It is a common street food which you don’t want to miss. The taste changes from region to region because of the type of ingredients they use in shichimi togarashi, and also the type of corn. Usually, the corn type used is sweetcorn, although other types such as pod corn or dent corn are also used depending on the area. You can most likely find a food corner during any summer festival in Japan selling this delicious dish. Japanese corn is usually grown during summer months, especially in the Hokkaido (北海道) region.
The Japanese love for corn is unbelievable and it is used in many forms as part of the Japanese diet. You can find canned corn in any supermarket, but a charcoal grilled corn-pole topped with the seven flavor spice is a definite must-try in Japan! Try it next time you visit a summer festival.