KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — Do you miss your camping days?
When you were a child, being dragged along on a trip by your parents to the woods, long in planning and short on checking weather forecasts.
When you were a little older, a Boy Scout or a Girl Guide, with friends cracking jokes over the crackling fire.
When you were older still and in the bloom of love, drawn to the flames to roast marshmallows to make s’mores for your paramour, hoping to warm the sleeping bags together.
When you were alone and needful of the time alone, a silent retreat, a solo hike, a time of one.
No need for fine culinary skills then. Just a few provisions would do.
Choose potatoes that are firm to the touch and not mushy.
Some fresh corn, still waiting to be shucked off their husks, the gossamer beards of finest gold. Some potatoes, needing a good scrub to rid them of the soil. (Funny that they would end up cleaner than you were, with a few days worth of hiking sticking to you like an earthy sheen.)
Roasted to perfection. A flick of butter that you had kept like treasure in the cooler bag with some tiny ice packs. A generous sprinkling of salt. And you have every camper’s favourite breakfast, lunch and dinner — grilled corn and baked potatoes.
Who’s to say you can’t enjoy the pleasures of camping (perhaps not all, but some) in the comforts of your own home?
Lots of garlic is needed for flavour and aroma.
Sheltered from the rain and the weatherman’s inaccuracy. Safe from high, open flames and the soot of burning charcoal. Sans the sweets, you’re watching your fasting blood glucose these days.
But still the silence and the serenity. The quiet of home. And perhaps the magic of an air fryer your mother persuaded you to buy (she’s been frying the chicken nuggets that your father has been craving, she says, albeit with “a lot less oil!” — the exclamation one of surprise and delight).
Corn and potatoes. Fried, rather than roasted. Well, let’s have some fun with this, shall we?
Paprika adds a gentle heat and dusty-red colour.
FRIED CORN RIBS AND POTATO WEDGES
While I’m new to the not-so-new air fryer craze, I have been assured of the convenience and the minimal usage of oil; the latter a particularly salient point for health enthusiasts.
“Corn ribs” aren’t maize-flavoured pork ribs but rather corn on the cobs that are split lengthwise. Cut this way, the long slices of quartered cob will curl when cooked, thereby replicating the look of actual meaty ribs.
Instead of thick pats of pure butter, we can use less fats – olive oil is a good option here. Instead of oversalting the cobs for taste, we can use spiced rubs that are lower in calories but full of flavour.
Season generously with salt and pepper.
The same goes for the potato wedges; less salt and more spice. Paprika is a scene stealer here, smoky yet not too fiery. Aromatics such as garlic and fragrant herbs such as thyme and rosemary will help boost the flavour profile further.
Given the small number of ingredients, we have all the more reason to choose the best available. Look for whole corns that are heavy (lighter ones might be dehydrated and dry), have fresh looking husks and plump, juicy kernels within.
Similarly for potatoes, choose those that are firm to the touch and not mushy. Starchy varieties are better than the waxy ones as these will hold their shapes better. Make sure each one is free from “eyes” — little bumps on the surface that indicate the potato has begun sprouting.
For the spice rub, I have only used paprika here to better focus the flavour notes but feel free to use your favourite dry spice mix. Experiment with what you prefer then adjust the quantities accordingly the next time you make this recipe.
2 cobs of whole corn3-4 large, starchy potatoes2 tablespoons olive oil1 teaspoon paprikaSalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste4-6 cloves garlic, skins on3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Enjoy this while it’s hot!
Preheat an air fryer to 200°C.
Shuck the husks from each cob of corn. Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends then slice lengthwise into quarters. Set aside.
Cut each potato lengthwise into halves, then cut each half lengthwise again. Finally cut each quarter again into half lengthwise till you get 16 potato wedges.
Add olive oil, paprika, salt and black pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly till well combined. Brush the corn ribs and the potato wedges with the spice rub until well coated.
Transfer to the air-fryer pan. Add the cloves of garlic and thyme. Toss again so that everything is interspersed.
Fry for approximately 15-20 minutes at 200°C or till the corn kernels and potato wedges are cooked, with some crispy edges. Remember to flip the corn ribs and potato wedges midway to ensure even cooking.
Depending on the size of your air fryer, you might do the frying in batches so that the pan isn’t overcrowded.
To serve, transfer to a large plate and season with more salt to taste.
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