Crispy Hominy + Cheddar Fritters


When I worked on The Kimchi Chronicles, the companion cookbook to the PBS show of the same name about Korea and its food, I grew to love bindatteok—crunchy, savory fritters made of ground mung beans seasoned with seasame oil and soy sauce, and often punctuated with bits of kimchiand scallions. Inspired by them, I’ve continued to make fritters with different beans, grains, and legumes. Small victory: They all work and they’re all delicious. I especially love using canned hominy to get the great flavor of corn—sort of like corn fritters without all the shucking—but feel free to try all sorts of different beans and grains (check out the Spin-Offs for more ideas). By the way, these are a great thing to make for gluten-free friends or family (or for yourself if you’re gluten-averse).

SERVES 4

One 15-oz [425-g] can hominy, rinsed and drained

1 cup [100 g] coarsely grated cheddar cheese

6 scallions, roots and dark green tops trimmed off, white and light green parts thinly sliced

1 egg

2 tsp Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce

Kosher salt

Neutral oil, such as canola, grapeseed, or safflower, for frying

A handful of roughly chopped fresh cilantro and some lime wedges for serving

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the hominy,cheddar, scallions, egg, Sriracha, and 2 tsp salt and pulse until the mixture is well mixed and pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl; it will be thick.

Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

In a large heavy skillet, preferably well-seasoned cast-iron or heavy nonstick, over medium-high heat, add about 3Tbsp oil (the exact amount depends on the size of your pan,but you’re looking for enough oil just to coat the entire pan so that the fritters can brown evenly—you are essentially searing them, not deep-frying them). Once the oil is hot (a little bit of the hominy mixture will sizzle upon contact),drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into the skillet, without crowding them, and use the back of the spoon to press down each mound into a flat round. Cover the pan with a splatter screen, if you have one, and be careful—this mixture contains a lot of moisture, so it tends to pop as it cooks. Cook the fritters until the undersides are browned,about 2 minutes, then carefully turn them and cook until the second sides are nicely browned, about 2 minutes longer.Transfer the fritters to the prepared plate and fry the remaining batter in batches, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

Sprinkle the warm fritters with a little salt and the cilantro.Serve immediately, with the lime wedges for squeezing.

SPIN-OFFS

SUBSTITUTE BLACK BEANS for the hominy and keep the Southern/Southwestern vibes going.

FOR FALAFEL-LIKE FRITTERS, swap chickpeas for the hominy and feta for the cheddar. Skip the hot sauce and add a handful of finely chopped parsley and/or dill.

FOR HOPPIN’ JOHN FRITTERS, soften a finely copped small yellow onion and a stalk of celery in a little oil and transfer to the food processor. Add a can of rinsed and drained black-eyed peas along with a handful of cooked rice and an egg and pulse to combine. Pan-fry as directed and serve sprinkled with thinly sliced scallions.

FOR WHITE BEAN AND PARMESAN FRITTERS,substitute white beans for the hominy, 1/2 cup [50 g] Parmesan for the cheddar, and parsley for the scallions.Omit the hot sauce. Serve with lemon wedges.

FOR KOREAN BINDATTEOK, soak 1 cup [180 g] dried mung beans and 2 Tbsp sweet rice in a bowl of cold water for a few hours, up to overnight. Drain and put them in a blender with 1/4 cup [60 ml] fresh water, a generous pinch of salt, and a few dashes each fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce. Blend until smooth. Pan-fry small spoonfuls of the mixture in neutral oil, as directed in the main recipe. Make a dipping sauce of equal parts soysauce and rice wine vinegar and add a handful of thinly sliced scallions. Serve the browned pancakes sprinkled with salt and the dipping sauce alongside.


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