When I found fresh corn cobs at my supermarket recently, I jumped with joy. I love corn! I had a revelatory moment as a child when I first tasted corn kernels smothered in butter – I’m pretty sure I downed that dish, the sweet nubs of corn swimming in butter. Butter. OK, so maybe I fell in love with the butter.

But what I’m trying to say very poorly is that corn and dairy tend to go well together brilliantly. And what better way to join them together in holy matrimony than in a soup – in particular, corn chowder. Creamy, creamy corn chowder. This made for a brilliant dinner one cold September night.

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder
Serves 2-3 as a light meal.

1 tbsp olive oil
A small onion, finely chopped
A small handful of chopped bacon or lardons (obviously, leave this out if you want the soup to be vegetarian-friendly)
Corn kernels cut from 3 fresh ears of corn
1 large starchy potato, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
A sprig of fresh thyme
About 150 ml single cream
1-2 spring onions, finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium size pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and the chopped onion. Fry until translucent. Add the bacon and fry until cooked. Add the corn, potato, stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft. Fish out the thyme.

Add the single cream and bring back to a simmer. If you’re looking for a slightly smoother texture, go ahead and blend some of the soup; I stuck in a stick blender and gave it a bit of a whiz to give it just a little thickness and body but still with lumps. Add the sliced spring onions and stir through until wilted. Season to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve hot with lots of hot bread on the side.

See that dish below? That’s the corn with salted egg yolk at the Sichuan restaurant in Acton. I have no idea how they fry the corn kernels, each little kernel coated in a batter with salted egg yolk, and yet they don’t stick together at all. As you eat them, the crisp, dry coating gives way to the pop of the juicy corn kernel within, the salty mixing with the fresh sweetness. I’m craving it again as I write this!

Corn with Salted Egg Yolk

A little over a week ago, I met a number of bloggers at said restaurant, my local Chinese restaurant. One dish that I insisted on ordering was that dish above. I do believe the dish went down very well with everyone – seriously, if you make it to Acton to eat at the Sichuan restaurant, you must order the corn with salted egg yolk!

Of course, such a combination doesn’t sound very Sichuan-y, a cuisine better known for its use of chilies and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The batter with salted egg yolk does seem to be quite common on prawns or crab or lobster; I think you gnaw off the delicious saltiness while eating the meat within the shells. But then a couple days ago, I happened upon kattebelletje‘s photo of fried corn in Sichuan province itself (she’s taking a cooking course in Chengdu). It exists – the dish does exist in China! However, we’re not sure if there was salted egg yolk in the batter but the amazing, individually coated, fried corn kernels are all there!

Of course, this isn’t the only excellent dish there. I love the dry chicken with chilies, the drifting fragrance chicken, and the sweet and sour aubergine. I can’t forget the ants crawling on a tree and their Guangong beef and their mapo tofu and their excellent hotpot. The dan dan noodles and Sichuan cold noodles are also particularly lip tingly and good.

But make sure you’re eating that corn!

Sichuan Restaurant
116 Churchfield Road
Acton
London W3 6BY

Sichuan on Urbanspoon

Fresh corn cobs are still available at the farmers’ and outdoor markets and after eating my fill of boiled corn on the cob, I wanted to use it in some other way. After a disappointing corn waffle at one London restaurant, I thought I’d cook my own corny brunch one past Sunday. Since I don’t have a waffle maker/grill, I thought I’d make fritters instead. These turned out to be more like pancakes as I didn’t use much oil to fry them.

Corn Fritters and Streaky Bacon

The corn fritters turned out gorgeously toothsome being chock-full with all those fresh corn kernels and when paired with some streaky bacon, became even better. Taking it all to another level was the honey I drizzled over them! I think maple syrup would be lovely too, the sweetness matching perfectly with the sweet carbiness of the fritters and saltiness of the bacon.

Corn Fritters with Honey

Fresh Corn Fritters
adapted from a recipe by Bill Granger.
serves 3-4.

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tbsp sugar
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup milk
fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 cobs
oil for frying

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, paprika and sugar. Crack in the eggs and beat them into the flour. Add the milk bit by bit and stir well to combine. You should end up with a very thick pancake batter. Stir through the corn kernels.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil, twirling the pan to coat the surface evenly. Fry the batter as you would pancakes, using 1 tablespoonful of batter per fritter. This will take about 1-2 minutes a side, until they are golden brown.

Serve with rashers of bacon on the side and honey or maple syrup to pour over.