Thursday, April 29, 2021

Fritter away

On Tuesday, I had another culinary adventure, one I’d been planning for a couple weeks. Things got in the way over that time, but the stars finally aligned. When I shared this on Instagram I said:
Today I made sweetcorn fritters for the first time ever. A couple weeks ago, Facebook served up a memory of how Nigel made them for me in 2015 [screenshot below], leading me to proclaim him “Best Husband Ever”. He made them for me because he knew how much I liked them. However, he didn’t especially like them, which may be why he never made them for me again. So, I made them today.

I used the same recipe he used, and although mine was a good first effort, it wasn’t as good as what he made. More practice is needed.

I served them like most cafes have done: A side of bacon, and with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce (I prefer Thai style). Most cafes add a fresh green mini salad (generally with fresh spinach or rocket), but I didn’t have anything on hand.

When Nigel made them for me, he served them with some tomato chutney he made from fresh tomatoes, but I don’t remember how he made it (it was six years ago, after all). Still, it’s a good idea to use sweet chilli sauce or a tomato chutney or tomato relish because the fritters can be a bit greasy and heavy.

Still, like I said, it was a good first effort. But I wish Nigel had made them for me instead. Of course.
I have no idea where Nigel got the recipe, but he wrote it down and I put it that slip of paper my recipe notebook many years ago. I get to see his handwriting every time I look at the recipe, which is now a sort of bonus. The recipe is insanely easy:

Lightly beat one egg with about a tablespoon of water. Sift together 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder, add a little salt and pepper, then stir into egg/water mix. Add one can of cream corn (they’re 410g here; choose a good brand, one that has whole kernels in it, too, and not just all mush). Stir together. At this point, check how thick the batter is. It shouldn’t be thin, but if it’s too thick, add a little water. Fry on a relatively moderate high heat—they take longer to cook than pancakes do, and if the heat is too high, they’ll burn before they’re cooked through. I had to turn the heat down after the first ones were, um, over-done.

I said in my Instagram post that it needs something to help cut the heaviness and greasiness. I like sweet chilli sauce, but tomato relish would be my second choice. Oddly enough, the sour cream doesn't add any heaviness or greasiness—maybe because it helps tone down the chilli sauce? I think that plain Greek-style yoghurt might be nice in place of sour cream. In any case, it’s worth experimenting with the additions (I will). Also, I cooked the bacon in the oven and drained it on a paper towel before serving.

I decided to try making it when I posted the Facebook Memory below, and the following Thursday I went to the supermarket and bought the cream corn and bacon—but I forgot the sour cream. It took me a week to get back to the supermarket to get that (and other stuff, of course). Then, because I was busy with family all weekend, the first chance I had to make it was Tuesday’s lunch. Ordinarily, I’d prefer it as a weekend brunch-y kind of thing. Maybe for my next attempt. Side note: It’s kind of unusual for me to cook a lunch—I usually have a sandwich or wrap or something like that (making toast doesn’t count as “cooking” for purposes of this post…). Actually, I seldom cook breakfast, either—unless quick oats zapped in the microwave for 90 seconds counts as “cooking”…

Much of my motivation for trying to cook things I’ve never made before is simply that it gives me something to do, something beyond ordinary chores. I’m also keen to make things I like without all the additives and chemicals that commercially processed versions have, especially salt and sugar. This last part isn’t new: I’ve talked before about making things in a healthier way.

However, another of my motivations, more indirectly, is Nigel. I (mostly) make things he’d have liked, too, or things that he has some connection to (like the fritters). Nigel was a far better cook than me, and I lacked the confidence to be adventurous when he was alive, and trying new things now is my way of carrying on what he showed me for all those years—and just maybe going a little bit farther (for example, when I made Thai dishes for the family last month, I hadn’t made most of the dishes before; Nigel would’ve been reluctant to do that—especially reluctant for me to do that!).

Over the past 18+ months, I’ve done a lot of stuff just for me, some stuff that’s connected in some way with Nigel, and a lot of stuff “just because”. This experiment was actually a bit of all three. Sometimes that can produce the tastiest results.

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