I’m learning to cook frugally and I’m not very good at it. The sight of leftovers turns me cold. Wilted greens, hardened chicken, mushy noodles; none of that stuff is my bag. Surprisingly though, I’m scraping by. A good thing – meal planning comes naturally to me, a control freak through and through. Reusing ingredients isn’t the problem (I’d eat beetroot, chicken, cabbage or whatever for 5 days in a row without complaint), it’s just that congealing, sorry-looking mess in the tupperware container on the 2nd shelf down that I take issue with.
A few weeks ago Matt and I were set to tuck into a creamy noodle soup for tea, a loose take on a Malaysian laksa we’d made on the weekend that was absolutely glorious the first time around. For reasons even I don’t understand, I couldn’t face eating what was left unless I created something, just a little something, slightly different to go with it. A dumpling, perhaps, or one of those delicious fried snacks that help you start off a thai takeaway before you hit the gang panaeng head on. Our usual store of frozen gyoza skins were sadly sacrificed in the move, plus with a lack of filling options, nothing defrosted and less than £3 in my purse, those little parcels I know and love seemed truly unobtainable. With a can of Green Giant staring at me out of the store cupboard, I came up with the plan. A quick trip to Co-op and £1.50 later, I was back with spring onions and chillies to fry up some sweetcorn fritters.
Served with a tangy, salty dipping sauce, these fritters were an ideal accompaniment to our fiery, fragrant soup. I think the first time I made them they ended up a little big. There wasn’t quite as many crisp outer edges as I would’ve liked. When I revisited the recipe this weekend I made sure to keep the dollop of batter to no more than a modest tablespoon full. It pains me to say it, but heaping here is not the way to go.
I’m really looking forward to making these again, maybe this time with a dishful of Singapore Noodles, or alongside pork potstickers and thai fishcakes when I have friends round and want to impress. From cupboard to plate these took no longer than 20 minutes and the batter can be made in advance as well as frozen to make the after work prep even easier. What I like even more, is that they’re easily adapted to suit fussy eaters. As long as your guest doesn’t hate corn itself, you can spice the little cakes to adapt to anyone’s tastes. Add an extra chilli, lemongrass and coriander for something quite delicate and fragrant, or grind up coriander seeds, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns for something more warming.
Ingredients (Makes 12 Fritters)
For the Batter:
1.5 Large Tins (roughly 400g) Sweetcorn
2 Red Chillis
5 Spring Onions
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
Vegetable Oil to Fry
For the Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup Sweet Chilli Sauce
1/4 cup Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Rice Wine
1. Chop your spring onions and your chilli as roughly or as finely as you like. I tend to leave my onions fairly chunky to add a bit of texture to the mix. Drain your sweetcorn. Combine your veg in a bowl and set aside.
2. In another bowl, mix your flour, baking powder and paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste, I use around a teaspoon of each. When the dry ingredients are well combined, crack your eggs into the bowl and beat. Next, pour your milk in slowly while you mix it to combine. You may not need all of it, depending on how thick you want your batter. I tend to add milk to mine until it’s roughly the consistency of custard.
3. Take your batter and add it a little at a time to the bowl which contains your veg. Mix it through until it coats each kernel of corn but you don’t want too much excess. Heat a 1cm high layer of vegetable (or another flavourless) oil in a large frying pan. Olive oil isn’t a good choice here as it will take longer to reach the desired temperature and will leave the fritters with a distinctive taste. Plus, it’s expensive!
4. To test if the oil is hot enough to fry in, I take a chopstick I got from Shop-Chopsticks and dip it into the oil. Any thin, wooden utensil will do – try the end of a wooden spoon! If you spot small bubbles around the edge of the stick, your oil is ready to go. Grab a table spoon of your batter mix (remember, don’t over do it!) and splosh it into the pan. I managed to fit about 5 fritters in but it’ll depend on the size of your pan.
5. Leave the fritters to cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the first side and then flip them. They should be a lovely golden brown colour. When they’re done on the other side (they should need slightly less time after the flip!) lift them out of the oil and onto a piece of kitchen roll or a clean tea towel. This will help soak up the oil so they retain their crispiness. Repeat with the next batch.
6. While your second and third batch cook, mix up the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small dish or ramekin. When the fritters are all done, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little fresh coriander if you have it. Wolf down like your life depends on it.