Corn Fritters

corn fritters

Oh, where to begin, where to begin. I saw this recipe in last weekend’s WSJ’s food section and began foaming at the mouth. Look at this picture. Do those corn cakes not look perfect to you? Golden brown, loaded with corn — I just want to reach my hand through the computer and snatch one.

The recipe, credited to London’s Yotam Ottolenghi, sounded fantastic, too. So, I set to work scraping kernels from the cob of our delectable CSA corn and finely dicing the most beautiful hot peppers I have every seen and mixing a batter of polenta and Greek yogurt and olive oil and cilantro. The mixture looked divine — colorful, fragrant and perfect in consistency. This is exactly where I should have paused.

But I didn’t. I continued on with the recipe and delicately folded in 3 whipped egg whites. And then I proceeded to fry up corn pancakes, delicious in every which way, but not what I was looking for. I wanted fritters, not pancakes, and I won’t belabor this point any further since I just went through my fritter-vs-pancake preferences with you all with these guys.

But all was not lost. In an attempt to rectify the remaining batter (I had cooked 8 pancakes at this point), I added an additional ear of corn kernels to the batter and then violently stirred, attempting to deflate the effect of the whipped egg whites.

Success. Total succcess. I mean, I definitely have a thing for fritters these days, but these corn-laden crispy cakes are simply irresistible. I served them aside broiled fish but I love the idea of making them the star of the meal, serving them with a simple salad tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, which is how Ottolenghi suggests. I should note, too, that the batter — the egg white-deflated fritter batter, that is — can be made ahead. Once I achieved the consistency I was looking for, I set my batter bowl in the fridge until dinner time. Yum yum yum.

If you think this recipe sounds yummy, check out this one, too:Watercress with Egg, Goat Cheese & Seeds. Sounds divine. These two Ottolenghi recipes are part of a four “easy-enough” recipe series. The final one will be printed this weekend. Looking forward to it!

Peppers from our Olin-Fox Farm CSA:
peppers from our CSA

The first batch of fritters I made came out looking like pancakes. You can see in this picture below how those whipped egg whites produced a puffy pancake versus a fritter. After cooking 8 pancakes, I added another whole ear of corn kernels to the batter. At this point, the batter was considerably more corny, and the effect of the whipped egg whites, minimal. Next time around, whipped egg whites will be omitted — they seem unnecessary.

corn pancakes

Corn Fritters
Adapted from: The Wall Street Journal
Note: Yotam Ottolenghi, the creater of these corn cakes, serves them with a light salad of arugula and cilantro. Find the original recipe here.

SERVES: 4

½ cup quick-cooking polenta, or fine-ground cornmeal
1¼ cups corn kernels, cut from 1-2 ears of corn*
1 small shallot, diced fine (about 3 tablespoons)
1 small jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, diced fine (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, roughly smashed (optional — I omitted)
¾ teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
¾ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
1 to 4 eggs (depending on whether you want to make a fritter or a pancake… see notes in post above and in recipe)
¼ cup chopped cilantro (or more or less to taste)

¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche

*I ended up using 3 ears of corn to make the batter the consistency I was looking for. See notes in recipe.

NOTE: Batter can be made ahead and chilled. (After I achieved the batter consistency I was looking for, which was in the middle of the day, I stopped making fritters and put the batter in the fridge. When it was time for dinner, I took out my bowl and started making fresh fritters. Yum yum yum.)

WHAT TO DO:

1. In a large bowl mix polenta with corn, shallots, jalapeño, cumin (if using), salt and pepper. Add yogurt, 1½ tablespoons olive oil, 1 egg and chopped cilantro. Mix well with fork.

2. Here is where the “recipe” gets messy: If you like the texture of a pancake, separate the remaining 3 eggs. Place the whites in a bowl and beat to soft peaks; reserve the yolks for another purpose. Carefully fold whites into corn batter in two stages. Let rest 5 minutes. (Note: This is what I did initially. See photo directly above the recipe.) If you prefer the texture of a fritter (my preference), omit adding the whipped whites**.

3. Set large nonstick frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour in 1 teaspoon olive oil (or enough to just coat the bottom of the pan). Once hot, spoon 2 tablespoons of batter per cake into pan. Spread with the back your spoon to even out the batter. Make 3 to 4 fritters at a time. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook cakes 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Flip and cook 1 minute, or until golden. Season second side of fritters with a pinch of salt. Transfer to paper-lined tray. At this point, it would be wise to taste one. If you like the texture and seasoning, repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter. If you think the batter could use more corn, add more corn. If the batter needs to be bound together better, add another egg. Once you’ve achieved the right consistency, repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter or chill batter until you’re ready to start cooking.

4. Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche on the side.

Yield: about 16 cakes.

** I should note that I have not made this recipe without omitting the egg whites altogether — I simply have minimized their effect by adding an additional ear of corn to the batter and stirring aggressively to deflate their whipped texture.

This is what the batter looked like before I folded in any egg whites. I so wish I had tried making one fritter at this step.
corn fritter batter

This is what the batter looked like after I cooked 8 pancakes and then added another whole ear of corn kernels to achieve the fritter consistency I was looking for.
fritter batter

corn fritters

32 Comments

  1. I had something like this in Bath, England at the Green Park Brasserie – served with Beets, Fresh Mozzarella, and mango salsa and they were incredible.

    Their recipe (which I requested from the chef) did use whipped egg whites.

    I’m salivating remembering.

    Reply
  2. I was just looking up that WSJ recipe when I came across your post. So glad I did! Your photos are gorgeous and the commentary and recipe is so helpful. I’m making these corn fritters tonight. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to find your blog.
    Thanks for sorting out that recipe and distinguishing fritters from pancakes.
    Toby

    p.s. On my kitchen-blog, I’ve been writing about the summer abundance of food… but doing so, I was struck by the discordant reality of the terrible famine in Africa. I’ve asked my readers to donate to Unicef or another charity if they could. I’m hoping that others with food blogs will do the same — you have many more readers than I do. Thanks for considering it. http://tobykitchen.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/abundance-of-summer/

    Reply
  3. Used two eggs. Added between 1/8 and 1/4 cup flour (just tossed in a couple of handfuls until it looked right). Yum! Perfect! Letting it sit before frying is essential.

    Reply
  4. Your fritters look delectable! It’s all about the batter and I love the inclusion of Greek yogurt. I’m going to dream about these until I can make them. Love your beautiful blog; I look forward to following it.

    Reply
  5. These look so darn good! I’ve never even heard of these. I’m so tired of making the same things over and over again…and i’m loving your site….just found it today. found the picture of the fritters on Pinterest. I showed it to my daughter (10), she made a “i don’t know” kinda face….then I told her it had corn….HUGE SMILE! Can’t wait to make these bad boys. I’m just stupidly confused about the egg thing. Just throw 3 (whole) eggs in? Only whites? Ok, sorry, I re-read it like 3 times now. Whip the whites a little bit?
    omg….i want to make these right now….YUMMY!!!

    Reply
  6. Sorry, it was the Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake that brought me to your site from Pinterest. Can’t wait to make that too!

    Reply
  7. I tried this recipe for dinner tonight. Tasty, indeed, but an important note that I didn’t see mentioned in the recipe–be very careful of the popping corn. It will take you by surprise. I’ve got the burns on my wrist to prove it! Otherwise, very very good. I skipped the egg whites, and the texture turned out perfectly. Really great flavor from the corn, and the polenta holds it all together very nicely. Will definitely store this away for next summer’s corn season!

    Reply
  8. I would like to try these, could you tell me what is a good accompanied food or topping for this, an egg on top sounds good, with salsa , greek yogurt. To much? would that hide the flavor of these corn fritters?

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  9. Thanks for this yummy recipe! I used just the one egg and they came out perfect. I had a really hard time finding full-fat Greek yogurt so I used a low fat and I think it was fine. Also the minute I tasted the first one I knew it had to have some Frank’s Red Hot with it, They hit the spot, thanks again!!

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  10. I just made these! WONDERFUL! I love your recipes.

    Also- I made it without the egg whites. I only used one whole egg in the batter. My batter was a bit chunkier than what is in your pictures, but still moist enough to hold together.

    Reply
    • Shikha — wonderful to hear this! I like the idea of chunkier — I think the chunkier the better, actually, so I am definitely going to try a whole egg next time. I definitely did not like the texture of the egg white–lightened fritters. Thanks for your nice comment!

      Reply
  11. Hello! Your blog is lovely, and I can’t wait to make these fritters. One (possibly dumb) question — should the polenta be dry, or already cooked? I often have difficulty getting fritters to stick together (often times too wet), so wanted to make sure I had it right. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Helen — Not a dumb question at all. The polenta or cornmeal is dry — you add it to the batter just as you would add flour to a cake batter. Hope that makes sense. As for fritters, I sometimes I have the same issue. I think with fritters, it’s important to kind of use the recipe as a guide, and then to cook off one fritter at a time, until you are happy with the texture and taste. I almost always cook off one to make sure it is seasoned enough, and if it isn’t, I add more, salt, pepper, or whatever spices are in the mix. And if you are having issues with them holding together, you could add more, as in this case, polenta or egg or whatever you think it needs. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  12. Your recipe calls for cilantro and sour cream but you do not include those items in your cooking instructions. Just add them to the batter? I want to make sure I do this at the right point in the recipe. Thanks.

    Reply
  13. This recipe, as you’d adjusted it, is really quite tempting! I had a quick question for you – I’m trying to figure out how to efficiently – and somewhat healthily update your recipe and wanted to get your thoughts!

    So instead of cooking these in smaller batches on the stove, I was thinking of using a mini cupcake or whoopie pie pan to get the right shape and make a larger batch (I am making these for about 15 people).

    Would you suggest changing the recipe to be more ‘baking’ friendly? Should I add a smidge of baking powder to make sure it fluffs up in the oven? Would really love your thoughts on this! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Sabs, hi! I think you’re on to something with the mini cupcake pan. In terms of adding baking powder, I don’t really know how to advise, but what I suggest doing is just mixing up the batter, and then baking off one either in the cupcake pan or in some other small vessel — a ramekin or something smaller? And see how it does. Then, make adjustments accordingly with baking powder perhaps or with other seasonings. I wish I could offer more guidance but I’ve never done anything like this before. Would love to hear how they turn out and what you decide to do in terms of adjustments if you feel like reporting back. Good luck!

      Reply
  14. Alexandra, I just love love love your blog. I am a nurse from San Francisco and I love to cook. My daughter’s name is Alexandra too!

    Question: is corn cooked or raw? Thank you!

    Reply

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