This Roasted Corn and Peanut Sauce Recipe is a Tasty Mess

Grilled Corn with Peanut Sauce

Active time:15 minutes

Total time:45 minutes, plus grill setup time


Active time:15 minutes

Total time:45 minutes, plus grill setup time


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This is one of those recipes that appeals to me by the name alone, and I hope it will do the same to you: Grilled Corn with Peanut Sauce. I love the first and love the second, so put the two together and I’m in heaven.

Cookbook author Rukmini Iyer writes that she came up with the idea for Indonesian gado-gado – specifically its sauce made with peanut butter, coconut milk and chili peppers. “It occurred to me that the dressing, slightly adapted, would work wonderfully with grilled corn on the cob – and, joy, it did!” she writes in her latest book, “The Green Barbecue”.

A heavily dressed corn on the cob always reminds me of basic Mexican esquites, aka elote, but in this case the flavors are distinctly Southeast Asian. It could hardly be simpler: After chopping the ginger and chili, you whisk the sauce together, grill the corn, and pour the sauce over the cobs before serving (or let guests do it themselves).

If you want to cook the corn indoors, feel free, either in a grill pan or under the broiler. And if you find the chipping too painful, you should try my favorite microwave method, which I seem to refine almost every year. Just this month I read a version from America’s Test Kitchen: You cut the cobs off one end, dunk them in water, microwave them for several minutes, then shake them easily to remove them from the envelopes. When you hold them by the bristle end to do this, the bristles come off so easily and cleanly that you may never prepare the corn any other way.

Summer is for roasting corn. Here are four ways to do it.

Of course, when you’re making this recipe, those clean cobs get messy again from the sauce – but who cares? When it tastes so good and you have napkins handy, messy just means fun.

Grilled Corn with Peanut Sauce

Get ahead: Prepared sauce can be refrigerated up to 5 days before grilling corn.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate corn and sauce separately for up to 5 days. Reheat the corn in the microwave before serving.

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  • 6 cobs of fresh corn in the shell
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup canned whole coconut milk
  • 1 fresh red chilli (such as Thai bird’s eye or Fresno), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, medium-high heat (400 to 450 degrees; see NOTE).

Cut the stalk end of each cob (the end opposite the silks) across the first row of kernels. Run water over ears to soak well, place three on microwaveable plate and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Hold each ear by the silk end and shake it up and down, dropping the ear, twisting it, and pushing it from the silk end if it needs help. Repeat with the remaining ears of corn.

In a large bowl, coat the corn with oil and season with salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, chili, lime, soy sauce, chives and ginger.

When grill is hot, grill corn, turning often, until browned or charred to your liking, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (If using a grill pan, heat over medium-high heat until smoking before cooking corn, turning often and working in batches if necessary, 3-4 minutes each If using the grill, place a rack in the nearest position, transfer the corn to a baking sheet and grill, turning often, 5 to 6 minutes per side.)

Transfer the grilled corn to a serving platter and pour the sauce over it, or divide between plates and serve the sauce on the side, letting guests pour the sauce over it.

NOTE: To prepare the grill: If using a gas grill, set it to 450 degrees. If you’re using a charcoal grill, fill a chimney starter with charcoal, light it, and when the coals are gray and ashy, pour them into the grill. Add more charcoal, if needed, and cover. When all the coals are hot, about 10 minutes, your grill should be medium hot. (Use a grill thermometer or test the heat by holding your hand, palm down, about 5 inches from the grill. If you can hold it for 4-5 seconds, the heat should be on medium-high, or between 400 and 450 degrees.)

Per serving (1 corn on the cob plus 2 tablespoons of sauce)

Calories: 228; Total fat: 14 g; Saturated fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 367mg; Carbohydrates: 24g; Dietary fiber: 2g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 6g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “The Green BBQ” by Rukmini Iyer (Countryman Press, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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