Our Thai corn fritters recipe makes tod man khao pod in Thai – crunchy, chewy corn fritters that we gently spice with a little chilli paste. Eaten as a snack in Thailand and neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, you could serve these Thai corn fritters as finger food or as an appetiser. They’re fantastic dipped into Thai sweet chilli sauce.
If you made a batch of our homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce, then you need to make this Thai corn fritters recipe next for tod man khao pod, as these delightfully crunchy, chewy corn fritters, seasoned with a little chilli paste, are perfect for dipping into that sweet chilli sauce. Bonus: these are also vegan corn fritters.
The corn season is just starting here in Cambodia and while June-July is when most corn is harvested across the country, we’re already starting to see some locally-grown sweet yellow corn at the markets and supermarkets. I think my wife loves corn season almost as much as she loves mango season.
Regular readers might recall Lara’s corn recipes last year – the year we began cooking our way through the pandemic while staying at home self-isolating and recipe-testing for our Cambodian cookbook. All of which we’re still doing.
Inspired by a traditional Cambodian street food corn snack, Lara made fantastic grilled corn on the cobs with lime, butter and lemongrass mayonnaise, then used the leftover corn cobs to create a delicious grilled corn salad with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayo, and croutons.
She also shared recipes for our favourite Mexican street corn dishes, starting with the smoky Mexican grilled corn on the cob recipe for elotes, a Mexican grilled corn salad that’s great for barbecues, and the Mexican corn in a cup called esquites or elotes en vaso, which takes us right back to Mexico City.
During this year’s Cambodian corn season, we thought we’d share some corn recipes from across Southeast Asia, beginning with this Thai corn fritters recipe for tod man khao pod. But before I tell you more about this easy corn fritters recipe – which Lara thinks is one of the best corn fritter recipes she’s ever tested – we have a favour to ask.
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Thai Corn Fritters Recipe for a Crunchy Chewy Snack to Dip Into Sweet Chilli Sauce
There are two main types of corn fritters found in Thailand, corn fritters made with red curry paste and those without, and you’ll find these fritters sold as a Thai street food snack, as well as served in Thai restaurants as appetisers, accompanied by sweet chilli sauce.
In all our years travelling and living and eating our way through Thailand, we can’t recall ever having seen or munched on the Thai corn fritters with red curry paste on the streets of Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand, although we’ve eaten them in restaurants and spotted them on menus.
Rather, it’s a lighter, smaller, rounder corn fritter with spring onions and lime leaves that are a speciality of street food vendors. You generally buy those fritters in lots of five or ten or fifteen pieces, and you get a little container of hot sauce with them – or a choice of sweet chilli sauce or Sriracha sauce.
For Thai people, these corn fritters are mostly a morning snack, something to pick up on your way to work after breakfast, before you head out for lunch and take something sweet back to work for the afternoon. Unlike many street food vendors, the particular vendors selling these corn fritters might only have another type of deep fried snack or two in their repertoire.
Tips to Making This Thai Corn Fritters Recipe
This Thai corn fritters recipe will definitely not be as satisfying if you use frozen corn and even less so with the use of tinned corn, I’m sorry to say. That’s because with both frozen corn and canned corn, the corn has generally been boiled before freezing or canning, and will never taste as good as fresh corn.
If you’ve tasted great Mexican-style street corn (link above), you’ll know that part of the appeal is the freshness. The same goes for these sweet corn fritters that have the natural sweetness of just-picked corn. Having said that, if it’s not corn season where you live and you don’t have access to fresh corn cobs, by all means try making these corn fritters with creamed corn, canned corn or frozen corn and please let us know your thoughts.
Another appeal of Mexican street corn is that there are slightly crunchy kernels of corn. With this Thai corn fritters recipe, kernels near the edge of the fritter, where the layer of batter is thinner, will cook more quickly than those in the centre and be nice and crunchy. The interior of the fritter will be delightfully chewy with softer pieces of corn – and that’s another part of the appeal.
One of the hardest aspects to judge when frying the corn fritters is the texture of the batter; too loose and the corn fritter will not stay together when it hits the oil or it will spread too much in your pan. Conversely, if the batter is too firm, the fritter can be a little ‘gloopy’ and burn on the edges before the centre is cooked. I always think of the correct texture as a slightly firmer pancake batter.
My guideline for 40 g of raw batter mixed with corn per fritter is just that – a guideline. If you want your corn fritters bigger (I wouldn’t go smaller) just weigh the first one or two to get your bearings and judge how full your spoon is and go from there. It’s always a good idea to go back and weigh a spoonful every now and again as you work your way through the batch of batter.
The chilli paste I use is a by-product of making homemade Sriracha sauce – our recipe coming soon – but you can buy commercial chilli pastes online or in any Asian supermarket or Asian market.
If you’re making these corn fritters for children or those who are chilli heat resistant, you can certainly leave out the chilli paste.
Thai Corn Fritters Recipe
- 200 g uncooked corn kernels
- 40 g all-purpose flour
- 40 g rice flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp MSG - optional
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 cup cold tonic water - plus more if necessary
- 2 pieces spring onion - chopped finely
- 1 tbsp kaffir lime leaves - finely chopped
- 2 tsp chilli paste - more to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce
- Sriracha Sauce
- Place the corn kernels in a mixing bowl, ensuring they are all separated.
- In a separate mixing bowl, incorporate the flours, salt, MSG (optional), baking powder, spring onion, kaffir lime leaves and chilli paste.
- Slowly add the tonic water and mix gently. The mix should have the consistency of a thick batter.
- Add most of this mixture to the corn and incorporate well using a light touch. We'll keep some aside in case we need to add extra batter to the corn.
- In a tall-sided saucepan, heat around 4 cm of neutral oil to 180°C (355°F).
- Place an oven tray with a wire rack covered in kitchen towels next to the saucepan.
- Place the fritter mix on a kitchen scale and turn the scale on. Using a large spoon, scoop a spoonful onto a small soup serving spoon and shape so that no corn will fall off the mix. Check the scale, as a guide you should have used around 40 g of the mixture to form the fritter.
- Hold the serving spoon over the saucepan almost touching the oil and using the large spoon, carefully scoop the batter off the serving spoon and into the oil.
- Start a timer as you make a couple more fritters and turn the fritters after 1 min 30 secs, using a small slotted spoon or a fish slice. Do not turn the fritters over before this as they may fall apart. After another 1 min 30 secs, the fritters should be golden brown.
- If the fritters do not stay together and little pieces of corn float off, add extra batter to the corn mixture.
- Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on the oven tray. Repeat until all the mix is used up. If you're making a large batch you can keep the cooked ones in a warm oven.
- Serve with sweet Thai chilli sauce and Sriracha sauce.
Please do let us know if you make this Thai corn fritters recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you. If you enjoy them, we’d also love a rating.