Canned creamed corn. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “this woman is out of her cotton-pickin’ mind if she is planning to recommend canned creamed corn as a quality ingredient.” But just go with me here. It might seem a little weird but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. At the very least your assumptions about canned creamed corn will be challenged.
Real creamed corn, when made with fresh corn and real cream, can be sublimely delicious. When corn is cut off the cob and cooked over low heat, the sugars develop and it becomes sweet like candy. A little sally and peppy and heavy cream and you’ve got some good eatin. But not many home cooks bother with it, especially in places where the corn is substandard, starchy and tasteless or the growing season is ridiculously short.In contrast, canned creamed corn has the ability to conjur up memories of scary school lunches and weeknight dinners gone horribly wrong. It tends to be a flavorless, soupy, unappealing wet mess. In most cases, it ends up incorporated into some other recipe, a classic Midwestern hot dish or a Southern style casserole. I bet Paula Dean has half a dozen cans of cream style corn in her pantry.
I had this tin of Madras curry powder in my cabinet for a long time and my husband Jason kept encouraging me to use it. So about 5 years ago, I started screwing around with curry recipes. I bought some incredible fresh chili powder and garam masala from the Curry King at the Dallas farmers market and I began to experiment. I can’t remember how this conversation started, but at some point Jason mentioned creamed corn. At first, I had a hard time making the mental leap to canned creamed corn. But the more I thought about it, the more my imagination took hold and we started concocting this recipe for creamed corn curry.
I started with a standard first step for curry recipes, sauteed onions and spices, and it built from there. My first few attempts included just onions, spices and canned creamed corn. The finished dish was kind of flat, one dimensional and gritty and had it no depth of flavor. Ugh! I thought I would never be able to make this work, but I started adding stuff and the concept began to blossom. I added some sauteed potatoes and that created a roundness and soft texture that we really liked. Then I added a can of whole kernel corn to the recipe and that created a bit of crunch that helped a lot. At some point, I served it over rice and that gave the whole thing some body. I was finally on to something. And then the lightening bolt struck. Coconut milk! I began making coconut rice using half water and half coconut milk in the preparation with the occasional lime leaf or lemon grass when I could find it.The coconut rice was a great companion to the creamed corn curry. From there, it was just a baby mental step to realize that adding the coconut milk to the creamed corn curry was exactly what it needed. EUREKA!! By george, I think we got it!!
2 cans of creamed corn
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 medium yellow onion
1 large russet potato
1 tbsp of yellow curry powder
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of chili powder
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (less if you can’t stand the heat)
1 cup of coconut milk
You’ll want a deep skillet for this recipe with high sides. I like to start by cooking the potato as it takes a little longer than the onions and I like to get some crispness on it before I put it into the recipe. Dice the potato into 2 inch chunks and saute them over medium heat until they get nicely browned. Set them aside while you prepare the rest of the dish. In the same pan, saute the roughly chopped onions over medium heat in a generous amount of olive oil, about 3 tbsps. When they begin to get soft, add the spices and saute them together until they become aromatic. Then add all three cans of corn and the coconut milk and let this mixture simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes, until the flavors are blended and the dish reduces slightly. Add the potatoes at the very end. Serve this over coconut rice with steamed broccoli on the side for a delicious vegetarian dinner. I’ve also served this dish with grilled shrimp or chicken that I’ve marinated in Indian spices.
Okay, so maybe you’re having a hard time imagining how this dish could possibly be edible and, believe me, I could not be more understanding. Maybe the basic concept of canned creamed corn is a deal breaker in and of itself. But if nothing else, this dish will change the way you feel about canned creamed corn. Try it, you just might love it.