Thursday, September 3, 2009

Corn, but not on the cob or on a stick

Mmmm, fried corn cakes (khao pod tod)! Simple to make (corn, rice flour, seasonings) but so delicious to eat. True Thai Restaurant serves corn cakes with a tart and spicy dipping sauce as an appetizer. Along with satay, True Thai Restaurant serves this street vendor food because when the State Fair is not in town, Minnesota has a chronic shortage of street vendors!

Thailand is no stranger to corn, with almost 2.5 million acres of cornfields. That sounds like a lot, at least until you learn that the state of Minnesota has almost 7.2 million acres of corn.

While Thailand cannot match Minnesota for overall corn production, Thailand is the world's #1 exporter of baby corn. Many people think that baby corn is not corn at all, but it is in fact baby corn. Shortly after corn came to China, someone (I'm guessing a hungry farmer) discovered that baby corn can be eaten.

Most of the corn grown in Thailand is harvested early as baby corn. This permits a third more corn plants to be grown in each field, and more crops each year. The Thai have evolved their own varieties of corn which yield more ears of corn per stalk.

If you like baby corn you will also love True Thai's Wok-fried Crunchy Baby Corn & Snow Peas Supreme. Just tonight Joy, one of our staff, told me, "Anna, I just love American baby corn. In Thailand, it is too hard!"

Because that is very true I did some research. At first I thought it was because Thailand generously exported all our very best baby corn, but then I realized that we what we export is mostly canned baby corn. The baby corn we eat in Thailand is fresh, and has not been soaking in water for weeks or even months before being cooked.

Regular ear corn is also very popular, not just for corn cakes but in many different desserts, including ice cream. My mom used make roasted corn for us. Little Anna's job was to start the fire and make charcoal on which to roast the corn. My mom would remove the corn silk and then wrap the corn back up in its husk, roast it, and then serve it to us with a special salty sauce, there being very little butter in Thailand.

When I moved to the United States I saw many fields of corn in Kentucky where I was going to college. I was so shocked that I called my mom in Thailand to tell her about it!