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Vidar Bergum is a food writer and cookbook author based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Sweet corn on the cob is delicious when in season. It loves punchy flavour. I use this to full advantage in this simple, fiery corn salad with feta & harissa. Delicious alongside the barbecue or any fried meats.

Wherever you are in Istanbul, a street food vendor offering a snack for small change is never far away.

There is simit, of course. Chestnuts. Poğaça, the sometimes scones-like sometimes bun-like Turkish pastry.

And there is mısır. Corn.

Corn - Corn with harissa and feta - recipe - A kitchen in Istanbul

How to boil corn

I always boil my corn in plenty of water seasoned with sugar, salt and a little turmeric. I picked up this methos from the Honey & Co cookbook. It

Photo: Bahar Kitapci

Huge meze spread seen from above
Photo: Bahar Kitapci
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You won’t necessarily taste the sugar or turmeric. But they both help bring out the natural flavour of the corn. It doesn’t hurt that it also makes the colour even more vibrant.

If we’re barbecuing, they get a little of that smoky treatment too. And then we eat them immediately. Sometimes with a little butter and salt, sometimes not. They’re so tasty these days that they don’t really need much more.

But if, like me, you end up not with one or two cobs of corn, but six or eight, a little variation is in order. Luckily, corn loves flavour. Big flavour.

How to make corn salad with feta & harissa

I’m not sure whether to call this a corn salsa or a corn salad. It’s really either.

In any case, that’s not important. What’s important is this: The combination of the sweetest corn, fragrant and spicy harissa and salty feta is quite simply delicious.

While I use fresh corn which I’ve boiled, tinned corn works too if your local market doesn’t sell them, or they’re out of season.

The punch in this corn salad comes in the form of harissa. Harissa is a Tunisian hot pepper paste, spiced up with spices like caraway and coriander seeds. Fiery hot and an explosion of flavours to boot! It works perfectly against the sweetness of corn.

Do keep in mind that shop-bought harissa comes in a range of hotness, from the mildly tingling to the dauntingly hot. Adjust the amounts in this salad to your tastes. The salad should be hot, not burn your tongue off. You should easily be able to taste the flavours of whatever else you’re having alongside!

When it comes to herbs, coriander is a bit of an issue in this househould. I’ve therefore used flat-leaf parsley. If I’m cooking for me only, I substitute coriander. It works even better in this.

Serve this alongside whatever you’ve put on the barbecue or with fried meat or fish. Or devour the whole thing on its own, with nothing else (yes, I’ve done it). Serves 2-4, depending on what else is on offer.

Corn with feta & harissa

Corn with feta & harissa

Yield: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size corn (or equivalent tinned, approx 175 g drained weight)
  • 20 g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander (thick stalks removed)
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. If using fresh corn, boil it in plenty of water with 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric added per litre of water. Drain and slice off the kernels with a sharp knife. If using tinned corn, simply drain.
  2. Mix the corn, feta, spring onion and parsley or coriander in a bowl.
  3. Whisk together harissa, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Fold into the corn mixture and season.

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Hey, there!

I’m Vidar. For the past few years, I’ve been exploring the foods of Turkey, the Middle East and beyond from my house in Balat, Istanbul. Let me show you around!

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I’ve published two books on Turkish and Middle Eastern food, available in Norwegian and German.

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Get free recipes & stories from my kitchen in Istanbul.

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Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him