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A platter of fritters with crab and corn salad.

Food and Drink / Column

The flavors of summer

Leftover corn adds a burst of seasonal goodness to a meal that keeps the kitchen cool

Dorothy Grover-Read’s culinary talents can be found on her blog, “The New Vintage Kitchen” (vintagekitchen.org), billed as “[a] Vermont innkeeper’s collection of classics reimagined for today’s kitchen.” Her column regularly appears in The Commons’ Food & Drink section.

BELLOWS FALLS—It’s corn season!

That means corn on the cob, corn chowder, cornbread, corn pudding, and corn fritters.

At this time of year, it is not unknown in our house to have a supper that consists solely of corn on the cob with butter and salt.

But we like to play with our food as well, and corn left over from the night before often finds itself in a dish the next day: a soup, an omelet, a frittata, a wrap, or a salad like the one in this month’s column.

This salad is light and refreshing, with the flavors of the season complementing each other. And you don’t even have to turn on the stove the next day — I plan it that way. A little thinking ahead gets you out of the kitchen faster in hot weather.

Corn and Crab Salad

This salad makes a perfect first course for a special brunch or dinner served in wide glasses or on plates lined with lettuce.

But you can skip the pretty presentation altogether and place the salad in lettuce and radicchio leaves as a wrap for a tasty lunch.

Or you can serve it on corn fritters (recipe below) for a corn-on-corn meal any time of day, especially if you then top it with a fried egg. This is a family favorite.

I find Maine rock crab at the local fish market. Its season runs from April through September. Fresh and clean tasting, this crab has no preservatives or chemicals to detract from the delicate flavor. It is more expensive than the imported crab from Indonesia and Vietnam, but the flavor is by far superior and the packing conditions reliable.

Crab from Alaska and Canada are also good choices. If you find this previously frozen in your market’s fish counter, ask for some that is still frozen. The same goes with shrimp. You don’t know when the shellfish was thawed, so it’s wise to control that yourself.

If you cannot find jicama, just add more radish.

The corn can be cooked any way you like: steamed, boiled, roasted, or grilled.

This salad is quick to put together, but you can make it early in the day to give the flavors time to get acquainted.

If you don’t eat shellfish, make this salad with all the other ingredients and it will stand on its own.

* * *

In a large bowl, place:

¶8 ounces Maine rock crabmeat, or substitute

Check the meat for any little bits of shell, but be careful not to break it up too much.

Add:

¶{1/3} cup corn, cooked

¶{1/3} cup purple onion, finely minced

¶{1/3} cup jicama, finely diced

¶2 radishes, sliced, not too hot

¶2 Tbsp. lime juice

¶Pinch of lime zest

¶Salt and pepper to taste

¶1 Tbsp. finely minced Serrano pepper (optional)

Mix it all together gently, and it’s ready to serve.

You can place this salad on lettuce and radicchio leaves. The radicchio adds a nice bitter element to this dish, as well as a little color and extra vitamins.

Garnish with whatever you have to add more color:

¶Parsley, microgreens, minced edible flower petals, etc.

If you can find nice butterhead lettuce, the salad is easy to eat served in the leaves as little wraps.

However, to make this even more of a celebration of corn season, make it a topping on a corn fritter; add an egg, and you have a whole meal.

This recipe serves 4 as a salad or wraps, or makes 8 toppings for the corn fritters below.

Corn Fritters

This is my go-to fritter recipe. I’ve made it at least a hundred times, with many variations, and it was a favorite of inn guests.

If you like, add a little sweet or hot pepper — {1/4} cup or so — finely minced. Crumbles of regular or soy sausage is also tasty.

Little flour is used because corn is the star. You can certainly use gluten-free flour.

Add {1/2} cup of crabmeat or minced shrimp directly to the batter if you like, but it is even better as a salad served on top.

These are perfect as is. However, some folks like to drizzle a little honey or syrup over them; others like some cheddar cheese grated on top when still hot. It’s all good.

Preheat a small saucepan with

¶1 Tbsp. butter

Sauté:

¶{2/3} cup minced purple onion

Set aside to cool once softened.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine:

¶2 cups cooked corn kernels

¶2 eggs

¶{1/4} cup flour, regular or gluten-free

¶{1/4} cup minced parsley

¶{1/2} tsp. baking powder

¶Large pinch of Kosher salt

¶Freshly ground black pepper

¶A few grates of nutmeg

¶A few dashes of hot sauce

If the corn is very sweet, you can stop there. If it is not as sweet as you’d like, add:

¶1–2 Tbsp. sugar or honey

Mix everything gently.

Over medium high, heat a large skillet. (I use my cast-iron frying pan for this because it heats evenly.) Add your preferred oil — just use one that has a high smoking point like olive or canola. This is pan frying, not deep frying, so just add oil to {1/4} inch or so.

Using a {1/4}-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter into the pan, forming little round discs, three or four at a time, leaving plenty of room to turn the fritters with your spatula. The batter is thin, so don’t mess with it until you are ready to turn them.

Cook for a couple of minutes. Peek under the fritters to see if they have browned enough, then turn. Cook another minute on side two.

You can also make these smaller for little party bites. Just use a tablespoon to measure the batter.

Drain on a wire rack for a few minutes, adding a bit more salt while the fritters are piping hot. This cooling technique will keep them crispy.

Top with what you like, or just eat them as they are.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #522 (Wednesday, August 7, 2019). This story appeared on page C1.

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