When the sun sets in Saigon, the street food vendors specializing in lunchtime rice plates and noodle bowls make way for evening offerings like roasted quail, grilled cuttlefish, and my personal favorite, sauteed corn. It’s impossible to resist the funky, savory, and buttery allure of bắp xào tôm bơ, especially when its enticing aroma cuts through the thick cloud of motorbike exhaust. Only in Saigon does pollution and temptation coexist so harmoniously.
As much as I adored this street side staple, I hadn’t thought much of it recently until I saw corn on sale while grocery shopping this past weekend. I picked up six ears for just over a buck and got to thinking about how to best prepare my loot. With dried shrimp, scallions, and butter ready to go in my pantry, I was all set to recreate my beloved Vietnamese sauteed corn at home.
While the red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and scallions each play an essential part in flavoring the buttery kernels, it’s the minced dried shrimp that take this dish to the next level. These pungent and salty little morsels punctuate each bite, transforming the corn from a very nice side dish to one that is intriguing and completely addicting.
Bắp xào tôm bơ is traditionally garnished with a florescent squiggle of red chili sauce, but I generally prefer mine without in order to fully take in each caramelized and blistered bite. Now that this dish has come back into my life, it’s definitely going to be a summertime mainstay. Hello, corn season!
- 6 cobs of fresh corn
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 scallion stalks, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
- 2/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
Remove the corn kernels from the cobs using a very sharp paring knife and set aside.
Chop the scallions, white and green parts, and mince the dried shrimp. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the corn and scallions and saute for 2 minutes.
Add in the dried shrimp, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, salt, and monosodium glutamate if using, and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. Once the seasonings have been absorbed, sample a few kernels and adjust to taste.
When the scallions have wilted and the corn is caramelized and crisp tender, take it off the heat and serve immediately.
Serves 3 to 4 as a side dish.
More side dishes to explore on Gastronomy:
- Bouchons au Thon
- Dukboki – Korean Rice Cakes in Hot Pepper Sauce
- Frank Stitt’s Creamy Grits
- Hobak Jeon – Korean Zucchini Pancakes
- Kimchi Pickling 101 with Chef EJ Jeong of Cham Korean Bistro
- Lemony Haricot Verts
- Momofuku’s Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint
- Old Fashioned Cornbread
- Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin
- Potato Skins
- Roasted Beets
- Sausage, Sage, and Thyme Bread Stuffing
- Twice-Baked Potatoes with Goat Cheese, Leeks & Turkey Bacon