I have a lip-smackin’, corn-fed, wintery recipe from Fushcia Dunlop’s Sichuan cooking masterpiece, Land of Plenty. Or at least I think it is in the cookbook, since I have the British version and feel I need to qualify in case it isn’t in there :). The reason I particularly like this recipe? It’s a way to get rid of the corn that’s clogging up your freezer right now. Ah, corn, I adored you so much in August, back when you and I were young, running on the beach, sharing an ice cream by the boardwalk… Summer lovin’, had me a bla-hast…
Now is the winter of our dissertacontent, and it’s hard enough to find a decent vegetable in the take-out joints in this town. Luckily, we have freezer corn! For those of you who endured the wormy corn season last year and assiduously put up bags and bags of Bodacious, this recipe is perfect.
So get on with it, already!
Corn makes a simple, authentic Sichuan stirfry. Dunlop reports that it is served at homes and in humble restaurants at the height of the season. Of course, it would be brilliant with fresh corn in the middle of the summer, when your peppers are at their juicy best, but it’s not at all bad in winter with frozen corn, especially the local stuff you’ve put up yourself. As you might imagine, the dish goes well with any meat, not just as part of a Chinese meal. Each time I make it, I’m tempted to add some Sichuan peppercorns or red pepper flakes to the mix, but it really is perfect as is.
About the peppers.
If you’re living locally, you could freeze home-grown thin-skinned peppers whole and dice them for this recipe. I do this with some of the Hungarian paprika peppers and pasilla peppers I grow — roast ’em and freeze them with the blackened skins on. It’s important, when using frozen peppers, to keep in mind that the texture and color won’t hold up when they are thawed. Therefore, using a tiny dice and having pepper bits for flavor and color is key. For this recipe, instead, I used the small, elongated Korean peppers available in Asian groceries. See the stuff that looks like okra in the picture? Only one in 10 is hot (beware!), so taste first if you’re sensitive. I find these peppers have a great flavor, much better than bell peppers, which are so overrated. You might also decide to throw in a diced jalapeño or two. Preserved roasted red peppers would also do in a pinch, now that I think of it.
Dunlop says to dice the pepper so the pieces are corn-sized, and if you are using fresh corn, don’t blanch the ears first, so the corn remains crunchy and juicy.
Three Pepper Corn Stir-fry
adapted from Fuschia Dunlop’s recipe
Serves 2-4 depending on other dishes.
- 2 cups fresh-frozen corn*
- 1 T. corn or peanut oil
- 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper, preferably a thin-skinned variety (see note above), diced finely
- lots of salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat 1 T. oil in wok. When hot and shimmery, fry the peppers until little spots of char appear. Immediately add the corn, and fry until golden brown spots appear. Season with copious amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper, more than you think you might need.
That’s it! Simple, no?