Pok Pok’s Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream
Corn doesn’t need much if it’s sourced well, but this is a delicious and inventive way to dress it up.
When I saw this recipe post by Brenda I was brought back to sweet memories of corn I had at Maenam. It was offered as a special that day, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It was like a Thai version of a traditional Mexican grilled corn with ancho chile, lime mayonnaise and Cotija cheese. Apparently this one gives the “Mexican stuff a run for its money”, so there was only one way to find out… well technically 2 ways. One would be going to Thailand, but this one is a bit more convenient and realistic, although living on the edge and impromptu trips for massive cravings I support 😉
“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!”
– Andy Ricker, from the Khao Phot Ping recipe in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand
With a recipe introduction like that, how could I not make it? Plus it’s summertime and BC also produces excellent corn. Of the three recipes that I tried from the cookbook, the grilled corn was the simplest and had the shortest list of ingredients but it was just as flavourful as the grilled pork and cucumber salad. I was especially drawn to it because of the Salty Coconut Cream. It’s just coconut cream simmered with a bit of salt, sugar, and a pandan leaf but it was so good that I kept tasting it straight from the pot.
As for the corn itself, it’s very simple. The recipe calls for boiling the corn and finishing it on the grill with the coconut cream but summer days are too hot to be boiling a big pot of water in a small apartment. I cooked the corn entirely on the charcoal grill instead, which added a little extra smokiness to the flavour. If you’ve only tried grilled corn with salted butter, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s almost as quick to make, and adds extra flavour to classic summer food.
Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream
“Flavour Profile: Sweet, Rich, Salty, Slightly Smoky
Try it With: Anything grilled”
– Adapted from Khao Phot Ping (Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream) in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker
Serves 6 to 12 as part of a meal or as a snack
- 250g (1 cup) unsweetened coconut cream (preferably boxed)
- 10g (1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
- 3g (1 tsp) kosher salt
- 1 fresh or frozen pandan leaf, tied into a knot (optional)
- 6 large ears of corn, husked
- 6 lime wedges (preferably from Key limes)
Notes for success
- The cookbook recommends using boxed coconut cream as they’ve found that it tends to be the next best thing to making it from scratch.
- The corn can be boiled up to several days in advance but be sure to shock the corn in ice water immediately after boiling.
- The coconut cream would be delicious served over rice or with spicy grilled chicken or pork. It would also make an excellent accompaniment with tropical fruits such as mango, banana, or pineapple. (The Salty Coconut Cream is also used in the book’s recipe for sticky rice with mango, with the sugar and salt decreased slightly since it is being served with sweet ripe fruit.)
- Pandan leaves can be found in specialty Asian grocery stores. The leaves can be used to flavour steamed rice, in dessert preparations, and makes for a refreshing iced tea.
- Combine the coconut cream, sugar, salt and pandan leaf in a small pot. It’s fine if the pandan leaf isn’t completely submerged.
- Set the pot over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer (don’t let it boil), then decrease the heat to low.
- Cook until the cream has thickened slightly and is infused with pandan flavor, about 10 minutes.
- Remove and discard the pandan leaf.
- (Optional) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the corn and cook until it’s tender and no longer raw, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Prepare a grill, preferably charcoal, to cook over medium heat or preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop.
- Grill the corn until it’s lightly charred in spots and nearly cooked through, occasionally turning the ears.
- Using a pastry brush, generously brush the corn with the coconut cream mixture. Grill for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Serve the corn with a drizzle of the remaining cream mixture and lime wedges for squeezing.