What’s For Dinner?
Cala Cakes (Rice Fritters) With Tomato Salad
(First star is lowest, fourth star is highest)
Cala, rice fritters of West African origin, have long been popular in New Orleans. Traditionally, they are dusted with powdered sugar and enjoyed in the morning. This dinner riff, from the New Orleans restaurant Cochon, adds corn to the fritter batter and leverages the natural sweetness of a grape tomato garnish. Chef Stephen Stryjewski, who gets much of his produce at the nearby Crescent City Farmers Market, uses leftover corn from ears roasted over a wood fire but says that boiled kernels will also work just fine.
Virginia Willis of our Saving Southern Food chefs panel tested and adapted this recipe.
Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 50 minutes Serves: 6
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 2 or 3 good-size ripe tomatoes, diced)
1 sprig basil, very thinly sliced in chiffonade
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying the cakes
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 ears roasted, boiled or grilled corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 cup cooked long-grain rice
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the onion and garlic to a bowl. Using paper towels, wipe the skillet clean. Set aside. To the onion and garlic add the corn, rice, green onions, flour, baking powder, egg and buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Heat a couple of tablespoons oil in the clean skillet over medium-high heat.
When the oil is sizzling, spoon in about 1/4 cup of batter per cake without crowding the skillet. (They are like big fat pancakes.) Cook until the edges begin to appear dry, then flip and finish, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. To serve, spoon a generous helping of the tomato salad over the fritters.