Hands down, one of the best things to order from a Thai restaurant… or make yourself. These beautiful crisp and light Thai sweetcorn fritters are PACKED with fresh corn and a ton of flavour.
Sweetcorn fritters are one of the most delightful vegetarian (and vegan) appetisers. Fact.
These are crispy, light and they’re also a little spicy, but the sweetcorn adds sweetness which helps to balance the heat out. They have the most incredible fragrance from all of the aromatics and it’s almost like a burst of flavour with every bite.
I’ve served mine with a peanut sauce which will be linked in this blogpost. This is how it’s been served at several restaurants I’ve been to and I think the pairing works brilliantly.
This is one of those dishes that I’m obsessed with and I always order whenever I’m eating out. I love seeing how the fritters and the peanut sauce vary between restaurants. I’ve had fritters that are incredibly spicy as well as some that have been on the sweeter side.
Personally I do like a touch of heat but not to a level where it’s overpowering and preventing other crucial flavours from coming through. I’ve balanced the aromatics in these fritters to my palate and preference, they do have a subtle heat but you can really taste every ingredient!
These Thai sweetcorn fritters are also vegan, as is the peanut sauce!
Sweetcorn is an ancient crop which is believed to have originated from the Tehuacan valley in Mexico. It is thought to have mutated from a Mexican grass known as ‘teosinte’ anywhere between 6000-10,000 years ago.
Over the years sweetcorn has been cultivated, researched, and has evolved through selective breeding. Varieties of sweetcorn grow across the Americas with different attributes and features dependent on location, climate, and altitude. It was after the Christopher Columbus voyage that corn began being imported and grown within Europe.
I imagine during the growth of corn, this also reached Asia and they began producing their own harvests. Corn produces a high yield and hence is an ideal crop to grow. These sweetcorn fritters originate from Thailand and are traditionally known as ‘Tod Man Khao Pod’.
Thai flavours are some of my favourite to use. It’s one of the most beautiful cuisines that exudes flavour and elegance in every culinary way imaginable. Their fresh herbs and aromatics range from lemongrass (which I’ve mentioned several times is my favourite smell), to lime leaves, galangal, Thai basil and so many more.
Thai cuisine as a whole excites me more than I can express and I have the utmost appreciation for this beautiful cuisine.
During my research, it was interesting to read that Thai food itself is a sweeping term as the food varies across different regions. Which makes sense when I relate it back to Indian cuisine as it also varies immensely throughout the country.
A lot of this is down to ingredients that are grown/available in each different area, as well as regional influences from nearby countries. Traditionally these fritters would be made using a red curry paste along with eggs for binding.
I’ve made these Thai sweetcorn fritters vegan so it’s perfect for any vegans or vegetarians.
Thai sweetcorn fritters: what you’ll need
- Sweetcorn – I’ve used fresh sweetcorn. You could use tinned but try and remove as much liquid as possible by draining and patting dry. I could only access corn cobettes as the actual ear of the corn with the husks were not in season when I shot this recipe. If you’re using fresh, make sure to blanch the kernels first by placing them in boiling water for 1 minute, then running under cold water to prevent them from over-cooking.
- Lemongrass – essential for its citrusy and herbal notes. This literally lifts the entire fritter and provides an amazing freshness. I find lemongrass at my local East Asian supermarket but it’s now widely available in regular supermarkets.
- Banana shallot – more mild than an onion but you can substitute with 2 regular shallots
- Kaffir lime leaves – if using dried then rehydrate these in warm water for 10 mins
- Thai birds eye red chilli – provides all the heat. Substitute for a milder chilli if you wish or omit entirely
- Galangal – like ginger but not ginger. It has a spicy citrus flavour which to me always tastes almost medicinal, but I love it. If you struggle to find fresh galangal, use ginger instead.
- Light soy sauce
- Oil – any flavourless oil will be fine. Sunflower, vegetable, canola, rapeseed, peanut etc.
- Thai basil – provides a herby and almost aniseed-like flavour. One of my favourite herbs that I’m also currently growing!
- Plain flour/all-purpose flour
- Corn flour/rice flour
- Baking powder – helps to make these incredibly light
Where do I find these ingredients?
I understand that some of these ingredients may be uncommon and you may not have seen them in the supermarkets.
But I urge you to find your local East Asian supermarket and to have a look around there. That’s where I purchase my lemongrass, galangal, Thai chillies, lime leaves and Thai basil. These shops are filled with an amazing selection of goods and it will be useful to become familiar with them.
There is a world of food out there and it’s worth trying to learn as much as you can!
I usually freeze my galangal, lemongrass and chillies in sealed freezer safe containers. They last for months and just require thawing before use. It’s a great way to keep these ingredients on hand!
Sauce, or no sauce?
Always sauce, without question.
These Thai sweetcorn fritters are amazing as they are but they’re elevated when paired with my peanut sauce. The nuttiness within the sauce plus its subtle sweetness and saltiness compliments the fritters perfectly. The peanut sauce is really easy to put together, which is what we exactly what we want.
It won’t overpower your fritters either.
Serving the fritters with a peanut sauce is how it’s always been served at one of my favourite Thai restaurants in London. It truly is the perfect pairing and I can’t have it any other way.
The fritters themselves are incredible enough to wow your friends and family, but pair it with a peanut sauce and you’re on to something memorable. You’ll be the talk of the town!
Can these Thai Sweetcorn Fritters be air fried or baked?
You can indeed, but the most crispy result were the ones that were deep fried. There was no difference in flavour between the deep fried, air fried and baked batches so that won’t be an issue. Deep fried were the most crispy, followed by air fried, followed by baked.
Baking and Air Frying these Thai Sweetcorn Fritters
Bake in a preheated oven (200’C fan/220’C convention). Place fritters on a greased tray and bake for 12-14 mins, flipping them over half way through. Allow them to cool for several minutes to firm up before handling.
Air fry at 190’C for 15 minutes, flipping them over half way through. They should have browned and crisped up. Allow them to cool for several minutes to firm up before handling.
- Once the batter has been mixed together, let it sit for 30 mins for the flour to hydrate and soak up the liquid. This also allows the flavours to mingle a little and for the batter to come to room temperature in case you’re using any refrigerated ingredients.
- Fry these at a lower temperature so that the fritters are at a gentle bubble – this should take around 2.5-3mins. If your oil temperature is too high you risk the corn kernels popping which can be dangerous as well as very messy. This happens because the high temperature causes the moisture inside the kernel to rapidly heat up and expand. This causes an immediate build up of pressure which eventually leads to the kernel popping. For safety use a splatter guard and don’t peer directly over the frying pan.
How to make these Thai sweetcorn fritters
1+2) Cut off your sweetcorn kernels. If you’re using fresh like myself then make sure to blanch the kernels in boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately run under cold water to prevent them from overcooking
3) Blitz together half the sweetcorn and the aromatics
4) Add the remaining sweetcorn, flours, and fresh Thai basil. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Why does the Thai sweetcorn fritter batter rest for 30 minutes?
This allows the flours to hydrate fully and to thicken the batter enough for it to bind, whilst still keeping the fritters light. On the other hand, if we simply added more and more flour to the batter, it would still bind but it would lose its light and airy texture.
The more flour, the more dense the final texture becomes. I find it also allows the flavours to mingle a little in that time too.
You could also refrigerate the batter at this stage if you wish. You could refrigerate it overnight and fry these first thing in the morning if you wanted a flavourful and indulgent breakfast.
Just make sure to remove the batter from the fridge at least 30 mins before frying so it starts to come back to room temperature.
Thai Sweetcorn Fritters
- Food processor
- 2 corn cobettes which provided 360g of kernels
- 1 lemongrass stalk
- 1 banana shallot
- 2 kaffir lime leaves either fresh or rehydrate dried in warm water for 10 min
- 2 Thai birds eye red chillies omit if you want to make these mild
- Inch piece of galangal or ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp flavourless oil sunflower, vegetable, peanut, rapeseed etc
- 5 Thai basil leaves finely chopped
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 5 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Cut off your sweetcorn kernels from your cobs/cobettes, or ear of corn. If you're using fresh kernels, blanch them by boiling in water for 1 minute, then running through cold water to prevent them from overcooking
- Blitz together half of your sweetcorn along with the lemongrass, shallot, lime leaves, chillies, galangal, garlic, light soy and oil
- Add the remaining half of the sweetcorn along with the Thai basil and mix to combine. Don't blitz this as we want to keep some sweetcorn whole
- Add the flours, salt and baking powder. Mix to combine
- Allow your batter to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight
- Form small fritter shapes using around 1.5tbsps of batter each
- Deep fry for 2 minutes (turning the fritters over half way) – keep your oil temperature on the cooler end to prevent the corn bursting. Please read my 'Tips' heading if you're deep frying. Air frying and baking instructions are in the blogpost
- Enjoy with peanut sauce or sweet chilli sauce!