Anise-Scented Corn with Fresh Cheese and Jalapeño Sauce
This is the kind of simple appetizer or first course you'd eat in a Peruvian home. Many Peruvians make the soft, sliceable cheese themselves by adding lime juice to milk, then draining, salting and pressing the curds that form, ending up with something similar to American farmer's cheese. Eating corn on the cob rolled in this garlicky, cumin-flecked cheese is an unbelievable treat.
5 large jalapeños4 halved lengthwise and seeded, 1 minced
2 medium tomatillos (1/4 pound), cored and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound farmer's cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 gallon water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds
6 ears of corn, shucked
In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the halved jalapeños and tomatillos over moderately high heat until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender. Add the onion, peanuts and basil and puree. Scrape the sauce into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, mash the farmer's cheese with the olive oil, lime juice, parsley, cumin, garlic and minced jalapeño and season with salt and pepper.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil with the sugar, anise seeds and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the corn and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the corn in the hot water. Serve the corn piping hot, passing the jalapeño sauce and the cheese at the table.