Monday, February 24, 2014

Ghana-style snack: toasted corn and peanuts

In Ghana, people snack on nuts (as in tiger nuts, groundnuts [peanuts], cashews, etc. ) often combined with something else, such as fresh coconut or corn. While corn is sometimes popped and eaten alone or with peanuts, it is also toasted. (Think African corn nuts.)

Toasted corn is an African snack food that I have been hesitant to prepare because I have been unable to easily locate the correct type of corn. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago to some farmer neighbors  and they brought me a huge bucket of hard, field (sometimes called "Indian") corn to experiment with (thank you Micah and Bethany). While it is yellow corn rather than the white corn more common in Ghana, it provided me with the raw materials I needed.

I tried 3 variations:

1) Soaking the corn for 24 hours and then draining it, stirring in a couple of tablespoons of  canola oil  for a couple of cups of corn and  and roasting it in a hot (400 degree F) oven  on a greased cookie sheet, planning to stir every 5 minutes. Whoops! After 5 minutes I stirred it and before 5 more minutes were up, the corn started jumping off of the cookie sheet into the oven. It wasn't popping exactly, more the way sesame seeds pop when you put them into a pan to heat them. I had to turn off the oven and remove the cookie sheets after the oven cooled. I then drained the corn on paper towels and salted it.

2) While the corn was cooking in the oven, I also used a heavy frying pan on the stove top with a little oil (a tablespoon or so) to toast a cup of the soaked corn on a medium heat, stirring regularly. After about 7 minutes I had to put a lid on the pan, too, to keep the corn from jumping out.

3) The traditional way they do in Ghana: toasting the corn dry over a low heat (on my stovetop), then pouring the toasted corn into a pan of cold salt water to soak for an hour, then drying the corn in the same heavy cast iron frying pan I used to toast it originally.

I'd recommend #2 or #3 as providing the most successful result. Certainly, if I'd been able to
easily locate Goya's giant white corn or dried hominy corn, I'd have liked to have tried that.

This makes a nice crunchy snack, but not one to be recommended for small children.


Katie said...

When I was in Tanzania, they would pick ears of corn from the field and roast them over the fire. Instead of eating it like Americans eat corn on the cob, they would pluck the kernels off the cob and eat that as a snack.

Fran said...

Thank you, Katie. Do you know if those were what are sometimes called "green corn," the softer unripe ears?

Katie said...

I'm not sure it was ever called "green corn" specifically but they did pick ears from green plants to roast. We'd walk through the fields on the way home and grab a couple of ears as we went to roast later.

Krys Reads said...

This sounds delicious. Where would a Canadian get the proper corn for this recipe?