I first made this recipe during the last EURO season – it was one of the most buzzing time of the year, especially if you live in Europe like me: national flags on display in front of most houses and cars, football matches or football matches results on TV non-stop, people gathering in pubs or in private homes to watch a game. As far as I am concerned, such a fun social event cannot be totally complete without some beer and snacks. Therefore, in light of the ongoing Olympics season, let me introduce you – all my fellow sports fans – to a special snack recipe that will go deliciously with almost every exciting get-together: Crispy Spicy Buttery Corn.
Like most of Vietnamese snacks and treats, Crispy Spicy Buttery Corn originates from the street vendors, for they are ever so creative with making the most ordinary and familiar ingredients such as corn kernels, and turning them into delightfully addictive snacks. The combination of grease and spices goes wonderfully well with beer – no wonder why this dish is one of the best-selling in Vietnamese beer vendors.
This snack is also my family’s favourite, not only because it is delicious but also incredibly easy to make. I use canned sweetcorn, which saves me tons of time preparing the corn. Another good thing about this dish is that you can make it in a large batch, store it in the fridge, and just fry it one more time before serving.
Crispy Spicy Buttery Corn recipe
INGREDIENTS (for a large plate)
- 275 grams sweetcorn (from one 400 g canned sweet corn or 2 large fresh corn cobs)
- 50 grams (7 tbsp) tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp (approximately 2 grams) salt
- Cooking oil
- 10 grams butter (use the best kind of butter you have; if you are using salted butter, skip the above 1/2 tsp salt)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne chili powder (optional – if you prefer less spicy but still want some chili flavour, substitute cayenne with paprika).
1. Prepare the corn:
– For canned corn: Drain the corn into a colander but keep the corn a bit wet.
– For fresh corn: Break the corn in half and separate corn kernels from the cob. Boil the corn kernels in water until they are soft (try not to over-boil). You can add some salt into the boiling water to season the corn. Drain the kernels into a colander under cold running water to cool them down. Shake to remove water but try to keep the corn a bit wet.
2. Mix salt with tapioca starch. Put corn kernels into a bowl, add half of the tapioca starch (about 3.5 tbsp) and mix gently. Since the corn kernels are wet, the starch will stick to the corn very quickly. Add the rest of the tapioca starch, mix again until the corn is evenly coated with starch.
Mixing the corn in the starch twice will help prevent the corn kernels from sticking together into a lump. Add more starch if necessary.
* There are various recipes available online that use different types of starch. I personally prefer tapioca starch since it is easy to find (available in almost all Asian supermarkets). and extremely effective in deep-frying. Sometimes using tapioca starch makes the dish even crispier than using flour. Some recipes uses Lion custard powder mixed with tapioca starch to give the dish a golden brown colour and a sweet custardy smell. However, I have always found this smell a bit too artificial so I just stick to the tapioca starch only.
Corn batter after first mix
Corn batter after second mix
3. Pour cooking oil into a pan so that the kernels can be submerged. Heat up the oil on medium heat. In small batches, put the corn into the pan and fry over medium heat in 2-3 minutes until the coating turns a crisp yellow. Transfer the corn onto a plate covered with paper towel.
- Don’t place too much corn into a pan at the same time or they will stick. Use your hand to drop small amount of corn evenly into the pan instead of directly pouring all of the corn in. Cook the corn in small portions separately.
- Use a pan with a large flat bottom – more surface area to prevent the corn from sticking together, and the depth of the pan means you need less cooking oil to keep the corn submerged.
- Do not stir the corn right after you put it into the pan. Wait until the coating is cooked and hardens (1.5 –2 minutes) and start stirring.
- If the corn still has the taste of starch even though the coating has turned golden, the problem might either be: (1) the heat is too high and the corn should be cooked longer, or (2) the heat is too high, the corn is cooked outside but raw inside, or (3) the tapioca starch coating is too thick.
- If you are not serving the corn immediately, you should stop frying right after the tapioca starch coating hardens and has not turned yellow yet. Transfer the corn onto a plate covered with paper towel. Fry the corn for the second time just before serving for an extra 30-40 second. Double-frying will result in incredibly crispy corn.
Place the corn into the pan.
After first fry (and waiting for second fry).
Transfer into paper towel.
4. Before serving:
Melt 10 grams butter on low heat. Mix garlic powder with chili powder. Put the corn into the pan with the melted butter, add half of the garlic and chili mix and mix well. Continue adding the rest of chili and garlic powder and keep mixing until everything is well combined. You can substitute garlic and chili with other combination of spices such as butter and vanilla or butter with Italian herbs like oregano and basil, or Indian curry flavour.
Corn mixed with garlic and chili powder.
Happy snack time !
- Recipe & Photos: Linh Trang
- Written by: Phương Nguyễn
- Edited by: Thảo Đan