Corn Cakes with Sweet and Tart Relish

Corn CakesThere are many different versions of this classic Thai appetizer out there, this one just happens to be the one that we cook at our house.  They may not look like much, but these corn cakes are absolutely fantastic.  Frying at a high heat brings out the pungent flavors of the curry paste that, along with the bread crumbs and a little corn starch, binds the vegetables together.  Despite being deep fried, the corn and beans retain just a little bit of crunch and the kaffir lime leaves provide a fragrant citrus bite.

Our version of this recipe differs from some others that I have seen in that we use a bit more binder to hold the cakes together.  This may simply be an indication of just how lazy we are as cooks, but I really hate it when a fritter disintegrates in my deep fryer.  As it stands, even with the additional binder, these cakes are barely stable when frying.  Parts will flake off, so definitely use a basket to contain them or fry them flat in a skillet.  I like the deep fryer, as the cakes come out with an almost lattice-like structure.  Very light and open on the inside, perfect for absorbing the sauce….

And speaking of sauce.  These get served with a sauce that is somewhere between a relish and a straight-up pickle.  It is reduced slightly on the stove prior to being further thickened by the addition of peanut butter.  This sauce then serves at the marinade for the shallots, cucumbers, red chilies, and sometimes, bell peppers.  This blend of flavors really compliments the cakes but in a pinch Red Curry Peanut Sauce will do just fine.

Corn Cakes_mealAlthough you will typically see these cakes served as an appetizer, we use them as a side dish.  The dinner spread to the left consisted of Green Beans with Gorgonzola-Balsamic Vinaigrette, pan-seared pork marinaded in lime juice and chili flake, and a small bowl of rice.  Garnishes of peanuts and scallions and a small plate of pickles completed the meal.  If you didn’t want to go the rice route or simply needed some more calories, pad thai would go great with the flavors present.  We considered going that direction, but neither of us was so hungry that something as substantial as pad thai sounded good.  Plain rice was just right when drizzled with a healthy dose of Concentrated Soy Sauce.

As a final thought, most folks shy away from fried foods these day.  I really think that this societal trend is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.  Eating the occasional fried fritter or spring roll, while calorie intensive, is probably not going to kill you unless you are already on the way out or in a very deep, deep spiral.  After all, I just drove by a parking lot full of McDonald’s diners and none of them dropped on the way to their cars.  Just enjoy your food, be sensible, don’t gorge on  things that are really nasty, and eat primarily things that you cook from whole ingredients.  You should survive.


Corn Cakes
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2 to 3
  • ½ Tbs red curry paste
  • ½ Tbs. yellow curry paste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 6 green beans, finely sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fine dried bread crumbs or panko
  • 3 Tbs. corn starch
  • high heat vegetable oil for frying, such as peanut or canola oil
  1. Combine all ingredients except for the oil in a bowl, mix well and set aside to rest about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Divide the corn mixture into 5 to 6 portion, roll into smooth balls, and flatten slightly in your palm to form patties.
  3. Heat oil to 350 degrees F in deep fryer or pan. Using a frying basket, fry until golden brown. Handling the patties gently, drain on paper towls. Serve with sauce.

Sweet and Tart Relish
Recipe type: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: Asian
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp Korean chili
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 1 to 2 small red chilies, coarsely chopped
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar. Heat to a boil and cook until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat, whisk in the peanut butter and Korean chili. Set aside to cool.
  2. When cool, add vegetables, place in serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve, preferably at least 30 minutes.


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