I Tried the Corn “Ribs” Taking Over TikTok, and Here’s What I Really Thought
I think Buffalo cauliflower bites are delicious, but it irks me to no end when they are called “wings.” I love a good tofu scramble, but let’s not call it an “egg” scramble. Cauliflower steaks? Delicious! But “steaks” is a misleading title. So, when I found out that “corn ribs” were making the rounds on TikTok, I had to roll my eyes. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Vegetables aren’t stand-ins for meat! Corn is great. But corn doesn’t have ribs — pigs do.
Once I got over my initial distaste for the cheeky title, I decided to put my biases aside and give these ribs a whirl. I mean, when else am I going to slice a corn on the cob vertically and throw it in my air fryer? Plus, between the crispy potatoes and the feta pasta, TikTok has not let me down in the viral recipe department. So, I launched the app that has solely gotten me through quarantine and got to cooking.
How to Make Corn Ribs
The “ribs” are pretty straightforward. Basically, you quarter ears of corn vertically so that you have rib-like planks. Then, you brush these planks with a mixture of olive oil, lemon pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Once they’re oiled and seasoned, you cook them in an air fryer until they’re golden brown and crispy, making sure to flip them half way through. In the video, @spicednice, mentions that instead of air frying, you could opt to pan fry or bake the ribs. Once they’re out, you douse them with a chipotle mayo, and finish ‘em off with crumbled cotija cheese and fresh cilantro. The chipotle mayo is a mixture of mayonnaise, chopped chipotle peppers in adobo, and fresh lime juice. They come together in less than 30 minutes and all of the ingredients are super simple.
My Honest Review
The final product was super tasty! Even though eating fresh corn on the cob in February is like trying to date during a pandemic (both are a waste of my damn time), I still really enjoyed the dish. I will say that the only thing these corn ribs share in common with actual pork ribs is that they both leave your hands and edges of your mouth covered in sauce, and you could probably use a good floss after both eating experiences. But the corn was cooked and seasoned to perfection, the chipotle mayo was spicy, creamy, and had a nice kick of lime, and the final touches of cotija and cilantro provided a boost of freshness and saltiness. This recipe has a similar flavor profile, of course, to Mexican street corn, or elote.
A warning: My biggest issue with these corn ribs is the cutting the corn. I am a confident cook and I trust my knife skills, but I was very nervous cutting through this corn vertically like a lumberjack. Even with a sharp knife and a steady hand, this is a knife cut that can easily go very, very wrong. If you’re on the fence about your knife skills or you have dull knives, I would genuinely advise you not to cut your corn like this. I don’t think it’s worth the risk. This is one of those instances where I would say to let your butcher do it, but I’m pretty sure if you took an ear of corn to your butcher, they would politely ask you to leave.
To the narrator’s credit, the method that the video recommends, standing the corn up vertically and slowly slicing downwards, is really the only way to cut through the tough cob. If you lay the corn on its side, you run the risk of it rolling away while you’re slicing, and you’ll also crush the kernels in contact with the cutting board in the process. While it’s certainly a fascinating discovery that a vertical quarter of corn curls up like the curvature of a rib when it’s cooked, it does not impact the flavor whatsoever, and you could enjoy a similar dish by just air frying the whole cob.
For me personally, I am not up to risk a finger for a rack of corn that mildly resembles ribs. Try it once, get it out of your system, and from there on, just eat corn on the cob like everybody else, because it’s delicious and you don’t have to put your body parts at risk to consume it.
If You’re Making the TikTok Corn Ribs at Home, a Few Tips
- Work slowly and cautiously when vertically slicing the corn. I cannot stress this enough. If folks can send themselves to the ER from slicing open an avocado, then they can definitely do the same sawing through a tough ear of corn. And if you’re nervous, just cook the corn as a whole cob and top the corn with the chipotle mayo, cotija, and cilantro. It tastes the same.
- Continue cooking if necessary. The narrator says to cook the corn for 10 minutes at 400°F in your air fryer. I found that my corn needed an extra 5 minutes to get nice and charred. Always keep the corn in one layer in your air fryer, making sure that they’re not on top of one another, so that all sides of the corn can come in contact with the hot air.
- Wait until corn is in season! I know you want to race to the store to try out the latest viral trend, but let’s remember: It’s February and corn doesn’t come into season until mid-, late-summer. Trust me, this one will be worth the wait.
Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you thought in the comments!