One of my favourite cuisines, that I never get tired of cooking, eating or experimenting in – is Thai. It’s such full flavoured food, often making use of some of the simplest of ingredients. When well combined, makes for truly delightful culinary experiences. Thai Cuisine makes use of some of my favourite ingredients: fresh cilantro, fresh lime, fresh chili peppers and curry pastes – to name just a few!
I’ve tried a few different recipes for Thai corn cakes or fritters and loved them all. Recently, I’ve rediscovered them as they make for a quick and easy meal and have whipped up batches of my own Thai inspired corn cakes on a regular basis lately. I call mine Thai inspired corn cakes because I’ve used the basic principals of making them, but decided to branch off and start tossing in ingredients that I like or that I think might add something new. I don’t think this is so much a recipe as a process of experimentation. You can easily find Thai corn cake or fritter recipes online or in cookbooks. There is a lovely recipe for Sweet Corn Fritters – Tod Mun Khao Pod – in Victor Sodsook’s True Thai – The Modern Art of Thai Cooking.
This is my current Thai inspired corn cake process, it’s always evolving. I like to try new things, see how they work, then adapt from there, if need be, the next time I whip up a batch. The biggest trick is to keep the mixture at the right consistency – not to wet or to dense – you want to avoid a corn cake that is to thick, so that it cooks through properly and is light in texture on the inside while crispy on the outside.
As it is not corn season here, I prefer to use frozen corn, peaches and cream, thawed and squeezed to remove any excess water. It’s convenient and readily available year round and is a good substitute for fresh corn. I also like Thai fish fritters, which often make use of thinly sliced green beans in the fritter mixture. I had some fresh green beans on hand and decided to throw in some into my corn cakes mixture and personally enjoy the addition. As this is a recipe that is adaptable depending on the amount of corn you are using, remember to adjust the other ingredients as well. I base all the other quantities based on how much corn I am working with.
- 2-4 cups frozen corn, thawed, squeezed to remove excess water, measure depends on how much you want to make, 2 cups for a smaller batch and 4 for a larger one
- handful of fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, washed – this is to taste, I love cilantro, omit if you do not care for it or cut quantities to suit your tastes
- 1-2 gloves fresh garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce, to taste, omit if you dislike heat
- small handful of fresh green beans, very thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons of Thai curry paste, I often use yellow or green, use your favourite,
- 1 egg
- enough flour to bind the mixture together, start with as little as you think you need,
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
- I divide the corn in roughly half, one part goes into a food processor and the other half is kept whole and is folded into the batter. In a food processor, add half the corn, cilantro and garlic and process until well blended and smooth.
- In a bowl, add the remaining fresh corn, garlic chili sauce, thinly sliced green beans, fish sauce, curry paste, egg and the processed corn mixture. mix until incorporated, then start adding your flour, it’s really by the eye, you’ll add as much or little as you need based on how wet or loose your batter mixture is. You’re looking to get a mixture that is thick enough to hold together when you shallow fry but not so thick as to leave them dense or pasty when they are cooked. It might be hit or miss at first, to get the balance just right and to your liking – go with your instincts here. Don’t over mix, just enough to pull it all together.
- Now you’re ready to fry up the corn cakes, I usually use a cast iron skillet, I find they fry up nicely and hold heat well producing a nice crisp well cooked corn cake. or you can use whatever pan you have on hand, this time I used a non-stick pan.
- Heat your pan, med-high heat, add your oil and allow to come up to temperature. I use tablespoons to drop the mixture into the pan, spreading out the mixture to an even thickness – not to thick or to thin. Don’t over crowd your pan, fry a few up at a time, till golden brown, then turn and fry the other side.
- When cooked, transfer to paper towels and drain, transfer to a warmed plate – I like to microwave my plates for about 20 seconds.
I serve my corn cakes with a sweet and spicy Thai garlic chili sauce. I prefer to use my favourite store brand, President’s Choice Memories of Thailand dipping sauce – it hits the spot every time and goes with many other dishes, I always have some on hand. I make my cucumber relish from scratch, I use either English cucumbers or mini cucumbers, which are really just mini versions of the English cucumber. Personally I think the type of cucumber you use to make this side dish up matters, English cucumbers work extremely well, I’ve not found the same results with other types. I generally mix up equal parts white sugar to white vinegar, play with this step to suit your tastes, the idea is to get a good balance between sweet and sour. I combine the two together and heat the mixture up to boiling, you can do so on the stove top or use the microwave. I boil the mixture until it begins to thicken slightly, then remove it from the stove and allow to cool. I often quarter my cucumber, or use whole slices if using the mini cucumber, thinly slice some onion, red or white, chop finely some chili pepper and toss in small amount of fresh cilantro leaves, sliced or roughly chopped. Combine all the items in a non reactive bowl, then add the cooled sugar/vinegar mixture. Toss well and set aside to marinate. I make up my cucumber relish in advance or before I start preparing my corn cakes, so the relish has time to develop some nice flavour.
When you’re all ready to go, plate up your corn cakes, get your favourite dipping sauce and a side of cucumber relish, sit back and enjoy!