When I decide to try to recreate a Thai dish in the States, I'm presented with a familiar problem. The ingredients here aren't quite as flavourful, pungent, or spicy, and I need to figure out a way to compensate. Then there are those rare occasions when the opposite is true. To my tastes, the corn in Thailand is, to be charitable, not awesome. But as soon as I tried this preparation from a vendor on the grounds of a Chiang Mai temple, I couldn't wait to try it back home. The combination of rich, salty coconut cream infused with pandan leaf and America's stunning sweet corn is so good it gives the mayo- and cheese-covered Mexican stuff a run for its money.
- 6 large ears of corn, husks removed
- rice bran oil or any other mild oil, for greasing
- lime wedges, to serve
- 250 ml (1 cup) coconut cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 fresh or frozen pandan leaf (optional), tied into a knot
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the corn and cook for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well. (You can boil the corn up to several hours before you plan to finish cooking it on the grill or even a few days in advance; just make sure to shock the corn in iced water as soon as the ears leave the boiling water.)
Meanwhile, to make the coconut cream, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. It’s fine if the pandan leaf isn’t completely submerged. Bring to a simmer over high heat (don’t let it boil), then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the cream has thickened slightly and is infused with pandan flavor. Remove and discard the pandan leaf.
Prepare a grill, preferably charcoal, to cook over medium heat. Or preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat on the stove top. Pour the cream mixture onto a large plate or platter. Add the corn one or two at a time and rotate the ears to lightly coat them in the mixture. Grill the corn for 5- 10 minutes or until lightly charred in spots, occasionally turning the ears and brushing them with the cream mixture (or transferring the corn to the plate with the cream mixture and rotating it again).
Serve the corn with a drizzle of the remaining cream mixture and lime wedges for squeezing.