Tabouleh is a vegetarian salad made typically of parsley, tomato, mint, onion, bulgur (cracked wheat), olive oil and lemon juice. It originates in Syria and Lebanon and is typically served cold. This version of tabouleh will incorporate the seasonal vegetable sweet corn as well as the concept of partially cooking the vegetables to help warm your middle burner.
Your Middle Burner
Chinese medicine theory believes that digestion is primarily the function of the spleen and stomach: The stomach is seen as a pot on a burner; the spleen provides the heat which distills and transforms the food and liquids in this pot into Qi, blood and useful body fluids. Digestion, according to Chinese medicine theory, is seen as a process of cooking and distillation. Cooking, milling and macerating on the outside of the body makes internal digestion and absorption easier.
However, there is a balance between overcooking and milling and thus losing useful nutrients and cooking and milling sufficiently to enable proper assimilation and absorption. This balance does not remain the same in all persons at all times. Therefore, Chinese medical practitioners carefully advise each patient individually how much to cook and mill there foods. If the food has lots of nutrients locked in a "hard to digest form", it is better to lose some of those nutrients through cooking and milling if what remains becomes more easily assimilated by our body. Vegetables should not be overcooked. They should be eaten fresh and their skins should not be discarded unnecessarily. Here again, the issue is to cook them enough to be digestible but not so much as to destroy their flavor or nutritive value.
A "Middle Burner" Recipe
For this version of tabbouleh we will not only grill the corn, but the tomatoes and onions as well. Grilling or fire roasting the tomatoes not only begins the digestive process for our middle burner but it also adds a wonderful char or smokiness to the tomatoes. You’ll want to leave the tomatoes on the hot part of the grill until the skins blister and blacken, you’ll remove the blackened skins once the tomatoes have cooled and the inner tomato will have an amazing smoky flavor. The onion will receive a similar treatment as you will want to give it a nice char to develop that nice smoky flavor.
Known as maize to most of the world, corn is the most widely use native grain of the Western Hemisphere. Corn has quite a range with the majority of domestic corn being fed to livestock, while other uses for human consumption include corn meal, flour, popcorn, posole and of course processed items like cornstarch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and corn oil.
Additionally corn can be found in baking powder, dextrose, fructose, caramel color, confectioners’ sugar, maltodextrin, malt syrup, MSG, sorbitol, food starch, xanthan gum and more, including often being genetically modified. Sweet corn has a recessive gene, preventing its sugars from turning into starch so it is a vegetable, not a grain.
An Eastern Perspective: Corn & Qi
From an eastern perspective corn is a Qi tonic that strengthens overall energy and supports the kidneys, stomach and large intestine. It’s thermal property is neutral and its flavor is sweet. Corn is used to treat heart disease and loss of appetite, as well as to stimulate bile flow, prevent the formation of urinary stones, lower blood sugar levels and to treat cases of difficult urination or edema. Corn is the only grain that contains vitamin A and relative to other cereal grains corn is refreshing and an ideal hot weather grain.
Grilled Corn & Fire Roasted Tomato Tabouleh
Prep time about 45 minutes
Serves about 6
1 Cup Bulgur Wheat
3 Cups water
1 Teaspoon Salt
3-4 Large Ears Sweet Corn
3-4 Medium Tomatoes
½ Medium Red Onion
¼ Cup Parsley
¼ Cup Chive
¼ Cup Mint
¼ Cup Basil
2 Cloves Garlic
1-2 Ounces Balsamic Vinegar
1-2 Ounces Lemon Juice
½ Cup Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil, stir in one cup bulgur wheat, cover and remove from heat. Let set for about 30 minutes until water is absorbed, remove cover and set aside.
Pull the husk of the corn partially down and remove the silk, then pull the husk back into place around the corn and soak in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes, remove excess water and grill on medium high heat for about 20 minutes turning every five minutes or so.
Place the tomatoes whole on the grill until nicely charred.
Peel the onion, cut into half inch slices and grill until nicely charred as well.
Once the corn, tomatoes and onion are all grilled you can slice the kernels of corn from the cob and scrape the cob with the back your knife to remove all the delicious corn liquid. Remove the charred skin from the tomato as well as the core and rough chop, be sure to get all of the tomato juice. Medium dice the grilled onion. Chop the parsley, chive, basil and garlic.
Combine all ingredients together including the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice and adjust seasoning. I had fresh basil available and even though basil is typically not used in tabbouleh, it goes well with the corn and the balsamic which is also typically not found in tabbouleh, adds a nice depth to dish. Feel free to experiment on your own adding or removing ingredients as you like or have available.