I've made many types of corn fritter, but these - so far - are my favourite. This recipe is by my good friend (and former food stylist) Vivian Herijanto, the owner of Corner Kitchen cooking school and Corner Kitchen Café, in Sheung Wan.
Perkedel jagung (Indonesian corn fritters) with chilli jam
Take care when pan-frying the fritters, because the corn kernels often pop in the hot oil. It's advisable to cover the pan with a mesh splatter screen.
110 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
20 grams cornstarch
1 large egg, whisked
1 red finger chilli, minced
1-2 green bird's-eye chillies (seeds removed), finely minced
225 grams fresh corn kernels (cut from one to two ears of corn)
40 grams grated carrot
1 small garlic clove, minced
A few fresh celery leaves, minced (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooking oil, for pan-frying
Fresh limes, cut into wedges
Chilli jam (recipe below)
Put the flour and cornstarch in a bowl, add 150ml of water and stir well to make a smooth batter with the consistency of thick cream (if needed, add a little more water). Stir in the whisked egg, then add the minced chillies, corn kernels, carrot, garlic, celery leaves, ground coriander seeds, half a teaspoon of sea salt (or more to taste) and some freshly ground back pepper.
Heat a skillet over a medium flame and add oil to the depth of about 2mm. Spoon the batter into the skillet to form rough circles about 7mm in diameter. Cook until medium brown on one side, then flip them over and pan-fry the other side. Blot the fritters on paper towels. Stir the batter often to redistribute the ingredients before cooking more. Serve the fritters with lime wedges and chilli jam.
Home-made chilli jam
This recipe is from my food stylist, Nellie Ming Lee, who makes it in large batches and gives away jars of it as gifts (I've been one of the lucky recipients). It's much better than the sickly sweet chilli jams you can buy in bottles. She says to use mostly red banana chillies (which are mild), along with a few red bird's-eye chillies, to spice up the flavour. She also recommends wearing disposable plastic gloves when handling the chillies, to avoid irritating your skin.
You can buy Certo (liquid pectin) in some supermarkets. Citric acid is sold at baking supply shops such as Twins (1/F, 137 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 8111 3090) and I Love Cake (188 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2671 2644).
1kg fresh red chillies - a mixture of mild and spicy ones
1 kg onions
1 tsp citric acid
100 grams dried ground chillies
1 litre white wine vinegar
1kg granulated sugar
45 grams kosher salt or sea salt
250ml Certo (liquid pectin)
Put the vinegar and sugar in a large saucepan set over a medium flame. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture forms a thin syrup (about 20 minutes).
While the vinegar and sugar are reducing, prepare the other ingredients. Slice the chillies in half lengthwise and remove and discard the stems and seeds. Peel the onions then quarter them through the stem. Put the onion in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they're finely chopped, but not a purée. Scrape the onion into a bowl. Put the chillies in the food processor (no need to wash it), sprinkle the citric acid on top then pulse until the chillies are finely chopped.
When the vinegar and sugar are reduced to a syrup, stir in the onion and salt. Cook at a low simmer, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (about 20 minutes). Put a white plate in the fridge (you'll need it to test the consistency of the jam).
Sterilise 15 to 20 jam jars that hold about 250ml each: fill them with boiling water, leave for five minutes, then invert them and let them air-dry. Sterilise the lids by putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water. Leave them in the water until you're ready to use them.
Stir the fresh and dried chillies into the pan holding the other ingredients. Cook at a low simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. When the jam thickens, test the consistency by putting a spoonful onto the chilled plate - when the jam cools, the surface will crinkle when you blow on it. If it's not ready, continue to cook, testing it occasionally. When the jam is the right consistency, stir in the Certo and simmer for two minutes.
Ladle the jam into the sterilised jars, clean the rims with a damp paper towel then cap them with the sterilised lids, tightening them firmly. Pour hot water into a large, deep pot to fill it halfway. Place a kitchen cloth in the base, to prevent the jars from coming in direct contact with the pan (which might cause them to crack). Put one layer of jars upright in the pan, adding more water, if needed, so they're submerged by at least 1cm. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if needed so the jars remain submerged. Remove the jars from the pan and put them on a dry kitchen towel. Boil the remaining jars the same way. As they cool, the lids should form a vacuum seal; if they don't (or if you don't want to boil the jars, which makes the jam shelf-stable), store the jam in the fridge.
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