On June 6th the solar term of Grain in Ear began. China is divided by climate into a wheat growing north and a rice growing south. At this time in the north the wheat becomes ripe and in the south the summer planting starts. Chinese farmers are also now planting a lot of corn, most of which is fed to livestock. Many more Chinese are eating meat now than in the past. So corn is now ripening in much of China now as well. Due to our cool weather so far we may very well see corn later than usual this year uless it is brought in from othr parts of the country. The whole point of sumer corn, though, is that is be local and fresh.
Corn as a vegetable is quintessentially American. Even in Europe they don’t eat it very much. You are more likely to find roasted corn in India or Pakistan, where roadside vendors will offer it with chili powder or other spice mixes spread on with slices of lime or lemon. This year has been cool and corn is not yet abundant. When it is I will be fixing mine in this fashion. It seems a little strange that this food combination of corn, chili powder and lime comes from the Indian subcontinent, not from Mexico. Mexican corn on the cob is served with butter, mayonnaise and grated cotija cheese on it and the lime slices on the side. Some people add chili powder or cayenne pepper and some don’t.
The rice crop in China is actually four different crops. The earliest is that grown n the south and along the Chang Jiang (長江) river, known to westerners as the Yangtze. The third longest river in the world, Chang Jiang literally means “long river”. The first of three crops is planted here from February to April and harvested in June and July. Intermediate and single-crop late rice grows in the southwest and also along the Chang Jiang; it is planted in March to June and harvested in October and November. Double-crop late rice, planted after the early crop is reaped, is also harvested from October to November. Rice grown in the north isn’t planted until April to June and not harvested until September to October. Little rice is grown in the north, the wheat growing region of China. So the grain in ear referred to in the solar term refers to the first crop of the year.
I eat quite a bit of rice. I like rice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I make fried rice or eat it plain with stir fries. My favorite way to eat rice however, is sizzling rice soup. I love hearing the sounds when i pour the soup over the crispy rice crusts. Modern rice cookers often don’t leave a crust in the bottom the way making rice in a pot used to do. There are two solutions to this. In many Asian groceries there are prepackaged sections of crisped rice you can use. Easier still is to cook the rice in the cooker and then leave a layer in the bottom to dry out a bit. Then you can properly prepare those crusts for sizzling rice soup. The soup liquid is made separately according to whatever recipe you like. Just before serving you lightly quick fry the crusts, which will puff up slightly, then place them in a soup bowl. Before they can cool add the soup liquid and enjoy the sizzling sounds, the tempting odor. and the delicious soup.