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In the Kitchen with Ricky: Southern fried corn perfect introduction to summer and Soul Food Month

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Did you know that June is National Soul Food Month? This is another food holiday, which, I know, are about a dime a dozen. This one deserves the holiday treatment and I feel should be celebrated even more than it currently is.

Soul food is considered an ethnic cuisine all its own even though the style and term may have originated here in the United States. The definition, as Wikipedia reads is “An ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African Americans, originating in the Southern United States.”

A lot of the Southern food that we think of today originated as that of which was traditional practices of West Africans and Native American food preparations.

Sure, I could have chosen macaroni and cheese, cornbread or even greens to share with you in today’s recipes, but I wanted to celebrate this holiday by learning a bit myself and trying out a new recipe. I knew I wanted to make something with corn, as I have been seeing ears popping up in the grocery store. Corn is like tomatoes for me, I avoid them until the season is right, and even though we’re a bit early here in Washington, the season is approaching, and I just had to grab some. When I bite into a fresh and in season ear of corn, it brings a smile to my face and recalls childhood memories as my father grew corn for a few years there when I was growing up in Northern California.

In my search I stumbled upon many a recipe for Fried Corn, of which I can’t recall ever seeing before. Have I eaten it? I’m sure, as most of us probably have had some rendition before, but what stood out was the inclusion of flour, that I don’t think I have had. The flour coats the kernel and then when you introduce that to the grease or oil, it fries up and helps to evenly brown the corn. If the corn releases any moisture or liquid the added four absorbs it and creates a creamy mouthfeel. It also provides a little extra flavor and helps to make this corn dish a little more savory and so much more unique.

There were a lot of variations out there. Some used bacon grease (and if you have it, use it), some butter and some just oil. Widespread inclusions are bell peppers, marinated peppers, onions, herbs and garlic. I, however, chose to keep it simple and vegetarian.

By using vegetable or canola oil, this recipe is now not only vegetarian, but vegan. However, if you have bacon grease, using it in this would be wonderful, and butter is very traditional in this recipe. If you want to use butter, I suggest letting it toast a bit and start to brown it before adding in your corn kernels for a nutty richness that browned butter adds.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and that in the next couple weeks can find some way to enjoy and celebrate National Soul Food Month.

Southern Fried Corn

Ingredients:

5-6 ears of large corn on the cob, shucked from husk

2 bell peppers, or 6-7 mini peppers

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

Kosher salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

Thoroughly clean, rinse and dry freshly shucked corn.

Remove the kernels from the cob, by cutting down the ear lengthwise with a thin and sharp knife. I like to do this on a large cutting board or over a shallow walled dish/container as to catch all the kernels.

Mix the kernels with peppers, flour, sugar, salt and black pepper, and combine to evenly coat the mixture well with the flour.

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until oil shimmers and just barely begins to smoke. You want the oil to be hot, so you quickly crisp up the mixture and not steam or braise it.

Add the flour-coated corn mixture to hot oil and fry, stirring often to evenly cook, until the corn is tender, and the flour starts to brown and crisp.

Make sure it doesn’t stick to pan by keeping the mixture moving about.

Remove from heat and test for seasoning, adjusting as needed.

Transfer to a serving dish and serve with grilled fish or barbecued meats.

Enjoy! Feeds 4-6 people.