This is a safe place, right? So you won’t mind if I show you this not very attractive picture of corn and yammer on about how much I love this and how I’ve somehow downed three (!) whole cobs of corn in one sitting because this is so, so good, right? Right. You are so kind.
Bap xao, or Vietnamese buttered corn, is composed of a few perhaps unusual ingredients: corn, butter, scallions, dried shrimp, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and salt. Procuring the ingredients is probably the hardest part, unless you happen to do a lot of Asian cooking and have dried shrimp on hand. If you don’t and are nervous about buying dried shrimp because you don’t know what to do with the rest, don’t be nervous! They’re an excellent addition to fried rice. I’ve also been known to eat them plain, sautéed in oil until crisp. In fact, that was how my father used to bribe me to practice my piano. For each piece I played, I was allowed a single dried shrimp. Ha, I was such an odd child.
Anyway, this recipe is insanely easy – probably about 10 minutes prep and cook time in all – but the flavors are a veritable symphony of salty, sweet, spicy, savory, and pungent in the way of the sea.
You take a few cobs of fresh corn and separate the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Then you chop up some dried shrimp and scallion. That’s all the prep work, really and truly. Place a saucepan over high heat and when hot, melt a pat of butter with some olive oil and sauté dried shrimp for about a minute until fragrant. Add corn, scallions, and red pepper flakes and sauté for a couple of minutes. Then mix in some fish sauce and salt and sauté for another couple of minutes. Take off the heat and serve immediately. And try not to eat all of it at once like I did. It’s nice to share.