I’d overbought at the shuk, which I always do when some seasonal delicacy beckons me over to the stall and whispers, “Buy me, buy me, cook me!”
Oh, the stacks of ridged heirloom eggplants, the fat tomatoes at their scarlet peak, the excitingly fragrant, yellow mangoes. White peaches dripping with juice. But what drew me strongest were piled-up ears of yellow corn still modestly dressed in their pale green husks.
Israeli corn has become far more tender and sweet than it used to be. Twenty years ago, a visiting relative took a bite out of a boiled ear of corn and said, “Horse corn!” She put it down in disgust. To those who are used to corn that spurts milk when you put the knife to it, it was tough, dry, and flavorless.
But that’s changed, and local corn now tastes like that of my childhood summers and backyard barbeques in Michigan. I’d roll a hot ear of corn on a paper plate smeared with butter and salt, then bite into the steaming flesh and taste the salt and butter over corn sweetness. And more good news about Israeli corn: organic farmers assure me that it isn’t genetically modified.
It simply remains for me to modify my appetite for sweet fresh corn.
So there I was with too much corn. To eat it up before it lost its flavor in the refrigerator, I steamed the extra and mixed it up into a corn-meal batter. And were the fritters good. In fact, I had to buy more corn next time I went to the shuk, because the family asked for them again.
Some people like their corn fritters almost all corn, with just enough batter to hold the golden little cakes together. Others need a more latkeh-like offering, with the corn embedded in more batter. Some adore their fritters sweet, and some like to accentuate the corn’s natural sweetness with onion. I belong to the latkeh party, and my fritters sometimes have flecks of scallions in them. Do as thou wilt – this is the recipe that knocked family and guests off their feet this week.
Another note: I like to let the batter sit in the fridge, covered, for an hour before adding the baking powder. The fritters gain a deeper flavor when allowed to ferment some. But you can skip the hour in the fridge if you prefer, and go right to the skillet.
Ideally, corn fritters should be served with a dribble of maple syrup, but being Israeli, a dollop of sour cream or a little date honey does us very well instead. I confess, I like them just plain. Very hot, and plain.
Enough for 4.
Kernels from 3 cooked ears of corn
2/3 cup milk
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Oil for shallow frying
More salt for sprinkling over hot fritters
Heat the oven to 200 °F – 95° C.
Put all but 1/2 cup of the corn kernels in the blender, along with the milk, eggs and optional scallions. Blend until smooth.
Pour the corn/milk blend into a bowl. Add sugar, salt, and both kinds of flour.
Mix in the 1/2 cup of whole kernels.
Leave to ferment 1 hour in the refrigerator – this is optional.
Add the baking powder and mix well, just before frying.
Drop the batter into the hot oil by tablespoons. Fry 2-4 minutes on each side.
Sprinkle sea salt over the hot fritters, place into a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you’re finishing the frying.