Meatless Monday – Cachapas

If there is such a thing as nostalgia-food, I’d have to nominate corn on the cob for the number one position.

Just the words corn-on-the-cob, conjures up memories of late summer barbecues and corn roasts in the autumn. That smell, that wafts out of a great big, steaming pot of boiling water and corn cobs, when the lid first comes off, (it’s extra wonderful when you’re outside and it’s starting to get a little bit cool) and the anticipation of the sweet taste, juicy crunch and buttery fingers that make the stubborn nibblet wedged in your teeth totally worth it.

We’re just stepping into the beginning of corn on the cob season. The markets are overstocked (or will be soon), so it usually comes in some kind of volume deal, (six for three dollars, twelve for five etc). Which is great, you get a lot of bang for your buck, but it can also leave you with a lot leftover and there’s only so much space in the freezer.

Cachapas are by far, my favourite way to use up leftover corn.

Cachapas are Venezuelan corn pancakes, usually sold by street vendors. My friend Brian introduced me to cachapas at Phil’s Original BBQ, in Toronto, (like I needed one more reason to go to Phil’s and eat my face off…urm, I mean have a reasonable and moderate portion as an occasional treat, yeah). Phil, generously published his cachapas recipe in the Toronto Star last year:

Cachapas (Venezuelan Corn Pancakes)

3-1/2 cups (875 ml) fresh corn kernels (from about 3 large cobs)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tbsp (15 ml) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt

4 tsp (20 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 ml) grated mozzarella cheese, at room temperature

In food processor, combine corn, eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Purée 20 seconds. Batter should be uniform in colour and chunky with small bits of corn. Transfer to a bowl or pitcher.

Heat large non-stick fry pan over medium heat. When hot, swirl in 1 tsp (5 ml) vegetable oil. Pour 3/4 cup (185 ml) batter in centre of pan. Gently shake pan to spread batter into 7-inch (17.5-cm) circle. Cook 3 minutes. Carefully flip. Cook 1 minute. Transfer to serving platter. Cover half of pancake with 1/4-cup cheese and fold over to form half moon. Cover with foil while repeating the process with the remaining oil, batter and cheese.

I have yet to discover anything that cachapas don’t go well with, they’re a little bit sweet and bring out savory flavours in other food beautifully. Personally, I love them with cheese, barbecued chicken, pulled pork, (I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that on meatless Monday) chili, or salsa. It’s simple and delicious, but definitely a once-in-a-while treat.

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