Despite the wide use of charcoal as a cooking fuel, Trinidadians aren’t particularly keen on grilling. One exception is corn. Stroll through Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain at dusk and you’ll find large crowds at the corn vendors lining up for crackling crisp ears of a mature variety of corn most Americans would consider too large, old, and dried out to eat. But it’s these very defects that make the corn so munchable and delicious.
Traditionally, the cooked ears are brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Inspired by a popular Trinidadian herb, I’ve come up with a more interesting topping: shadon beni butter. Shadon beni (literally false cilantro) is a dark green, thumb-shaped, sawtooth-edged herb with a taste similar to cilantro. It’s generally sold in North America by its Hispanic name, culantro (look for it in Hispanic and West Indian markets). But don’t despair if you can’t find shadon beni: cilantro makes an equally delicious butter. By the way, you can use shadon beni butter as a great topping for other simply grilled vegetables and seafood.
Step 1: Shuck the corn and set it aside while you prepare the shadon beni butter.
Step 2: Place the butter, culantro, scallions, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Season the butter with pepper to taste and transfer it to a bowl. Alternatively, if the herbs and garlic are very finely minced, you can stir them right into the butter in a bowl.
Step 3: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
Step 4: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the corn on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned all over, 8 to 12 minutes. As the corn cooks, brush it occasionally with the shadon beni butter.
Step 5: Remove the corn from the grill and brush it once more with the shadon beni butter. Serve at once.