Fritters are the nicest way to enjoy sweetcorn

Great as a side dish with chicken or pork, these little crispy patties are simple to make

The world of corn is a truly remarkable place. Growing up, I knew only of tinned sweetcorn from the friendly green giant. The ones you picked up on magical Friday night trips to Superquinn. Later, in my teens, I discovered corn on the cob, boiled, buttered and finished with flaky sea salt. It was only after travelling to Mexico that I discovered corn was also maize, a starchy grain used to produce wonderful soft corn tortillas.

Granted that corn arrived in Europe 500 years ago, how come it is only recently we seem to be able to buy corn tortillas in the supermarket? Bizarrely, the first Spaniards who encountered corn worried that by eating the indigenous foods of Mexico they would become weak and possibly turn into Indians. According to the Christian Church at the time, maize flour could not be substituted for wheat for communion bread since only wheat could undergo transubstantiation.

Outside the US corn refers to any cereal crop derived from maize, from sweetcorn to popcorn. In the US corn primarily means maize, or rather Indian corn, which is a type of yellow meal.

This type of corn was particularly important during the Famine and yellow bread made from this type of maize is very much a part of the Irish bread tradition. Masa, from which corn tortillas are made, is another thing entirely, and is made with ground nixtamalized corn. You can buy good corn tortillas from Lily Ramirez-Foran, founder of Ireland’s first Mexican boutique grocer and cookery school, Picado Mexican.


How to make sweetcorn and dillisk fritters

Possibly the nicest way to enjoy sweetcorn is to make a fritter. They’re great as a side dish to accompany roast chicken or pork. Place 300g of sweetcorn in a bowl and add a tablespoon of milled dillisk and a pinch of salt. Add three whisked eggs, 30ml of buttermilk, 50g plain flour and 25g rice flour. Heat enough oil in a frying pan to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, ladle a little batter into the frying pan. Fry on both sides until nicely browned.