Quarter the corn: I’ve tried various methods and found the best way to cut the corn is to first microwave each ear for 2 minutes. (Rinse the corn but don’t dry, and then microwave one ear at a time for even cooking. See notes in main post for additional details; the ears should not be fully cooked but softened just enough that you don’t have to struggle with the knife). When cool to the touch, cut off the stem end to form a flat base, and then stand the ear up vertically with the wide base flat on the cutting board. Cut in half, lengthwise, keeping fingers out of the way, and then lay the halves cut side down and slice in half again to form 4 long quarters. Initially standing the ear on end avoids squishing out the flavorful juices from the kernels, as can happen if the cob is laid flat; the ear can also roll this way.
If this method seems difficult, chop the cob in half to form 2 short ears first, so you’ll end up with 8 shorter ribs per cob instead of 4 long ribs. A shorter cob provides more leverage on the counter surface and less risk of slipping.
Season the corn ribs: Combine the spice rub and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small bowl, and then brush all over the corn kernels. Once the kernels are coated, brush the cob sides too, adding the additional 1-2 teaspoons oil to the spice bowl as needed. Coating the cob sides will prevent the ribs from drying out or burning on the grill. You could also spray the exposed cobs with oil spray.
Cook the corn ribs:
Air Fryer Corn Ribs: Lay the corn ribs in a single layer on the air fryer basket, leaving some space between so air can flow around them. Air fry at 400ºF for 10-13 minutes, flipping them over after 6 or 7 minutes. Exact time will depend on air fryer; the corn should be lightly golden in spots.
Grilled Corn Ribs: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and grill the ribs for 7-10 minutes, turning regularly and closing the lid between turns, or until golden but not charred.
Oven-Baked Corn Ribs: Lay the seasoned corn on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 425ºF for 20 minutes or until tender and lightly golden. Oven-baked corn doesn’t curl as much as air-fried corn, but it will still taste great.
Fried Corn Ribs: If you plan to fry the corn, don’t season them first – add the plain chopped corn to the oil.
Add 1 inch of cooking oil to a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the corn ribs, occasionally turning until the ribs are crispy, golden, and curled.
Remove the corn ribs from the oil and lay them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You may wish to use a second piece to blot the top of the corn as well. Toss the corn with the dry seasoning mixture (no additional oil required).
Serve and enjoy: Place the cooked ribs on a plate or platter and serve with dipping sauce. Optionally, you could drizzle the sauce over the ribs.