Food & Drink

Lend an ear to corn and shrimp pancakes

Fresh corn and succulent shrimp stud savory pancakes that make a great snack or appetizer. A quick avocado crema, left, makes them even better.
Fresh corn and succulent shrimp stud savory pancakes that make a great snack or appetizer. A quick avocado crema, left, makes them even better. Chicago Tribune

We’re at the apex of the summer vegetable harvest, and there’s no time like the present to stock up on favorites like zucchini, tomatoes and corn. Especially corn.

Shuck a freshly picked ear of corn this time of year, and you'll find plump little kernels as white and yellow as the noontime sun. Biting into a juicy, lightly sweet ear is celebrating the best of summer’s bounty. When it’s time to cook, no one will fault you for simply slathering a grilled cob with butter and a fairy dusting of salt. Perfection.

Then when you’re ready to use the corn in other dishes, shuck ears with abandon and jump in. To harvest the golden kernels, stand your naked cobs upright and glide your knife down the length of the ear – the closer to the cob, the better. Don’t toss the cobs. They do wonders for homemade stocks.

Now, take your newly released kernels and experiment with recipes. Here, corn finds its perfect companion with juicy shrimp. Truly, most dishes featuring these ingredients highlight the harmony between them, like these corn and shrimp pancakes. The perfect summertime appetizer, they are somehow capable of dressing up or down your summer occasions.

CORN AND SHRIMP SILVER-DOLLAR PANCAKES WITH AVOCADO CREMA

Makes: 16 pancakes

1 cup flour

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 extra-large egg, beaten

1 cup corn kernels

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 pound raw shrimp shelled, deveined, diced, patted dry

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Vegetable oil

Avocado cream, see recipe

Stir together the flour, milk, salt and egg until just combined; if batter is thick, add up to 2 tablespoons more milk. Fold in the corn kernels, green onions, shrimp, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, add 1/4 cup dollops of batter into the skillet, spreading each into silver-dollar-size rounds, about 3 inches wide. Cook until brown, flipping once, 3 to 4 minutes per side. If the skillet begins to seem dry, add more oil. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with avocado cream.

Avocado cream: Place 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted; 1 / 4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream; 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender green stems, lightly packed; and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. (If the avocado is not very ripe, you may need a little more creme fraiche to get a smooth sauce.) Taste and season with salt as needed.

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