Easily elevate grilled corn by slathering it with miso honey butter. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Easily elevate grilled corn by slathering it with miso honey butter. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Sweet grilled corn with miso is an irresistible umami bomb

This recipe is inspired by a favorite street food in Japan that often involves a lot more butter.

Here’s an easy way to elevate corn on the cob with hardly any extra effort: Slather it with a coating of umami-rich miso paste blended with butter, a salty kick of soy sauce and a hint of honey sweetness.

What is “umami”? It’s a Japanese loanword for savory and is one of the five basic tastes in food (besides sweet, sour, salty and bitter).

When the corn meets the grill, in less than 10 minutes the sweet summer staple is transformed into something complex and exciting as it becomes beautifully charred and the savory, nutty miso butter melts lusciously between the kernels.

The accompanying recipe has so much flavor, it is hard to believe that it is a lightened-up version of the typical preparation — a favorite street food in Japan that often involves a lot more butter.

Here, the small amount of butter is matched with an equal amount of better-for-you oil. The result is an alluringly tasty and healthful street corn experience to enjoy in your own back yard.

Grilled corn with miso honey butter

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon neutral-tasting high-heat oil, such as canola

2 teaspoons white miso paste

1½ teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

4 ears fresh corn, husked

Thinly sliced scallion greens, for garnish (optional)

Prepare the grill for direct heat: If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 3 or 4 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, miso, honey and soy sauce in a small bowl, mashing them together with a fork, then whisking until smooth.

Brush the corn with the miso-butter mixture, then place the corn on the grill. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, using tongs to turn them frequently, until the corn is crisp-tender and nicely charred.

Transfer to a platter. Garnish with scallions, if using, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

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