Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
Cachapas are corn pancakes, dead easy to make and good for a meal at any time of day. What’s a corn pancake? A pancake made of corn. That’s whole kernels of corn, not a can of the creamed variety, although you do smash it up a bit.
Also known as maize, corn is a plant that produces fruit as small, pea-size units on a fat stalk which we call a cob. The fruits are known as kernels.
Cachapas are popular in Venezuela, where in many families they are regarded as a treat, much as what you might call “ordinary” pancakes are in other countries.
Importantly, cachapas are best when you use fresh corn, rather than frozen or canned. They are served with slices of white cheese and a little butter.
A good cachapa tastes mellow and fruity. The first time I had them I couldn’t believe there was no other fruit involved.
Q. Why not use frozen or canned corn?
A. Because cachapas just work better with fresh.
Two corn cobs per person
A block of pale cheese (in the UK, Cheshire or Wensleydale are ideal). It should be crumbly and just slightly sour.
Rip the leaves off the cobs and get rid of the silky strands that surround the kernels. Then stand the cob on its flatter, thicker end and, using a good strong knife, cut the kernels off. You know how big corn kernels are and you can see at the top before you start, anyway. So place the blade there and slice downwards. Don’t worry if you stray a little either way; as long as you end up with little yellow balls, you’re okay.
Put the kernels in a blender and blitz them. You need to break them up and make them slightly mushy, but not soupy. Prod and mix them with the handle of a wooden spoon until they are at least clinging together a bit.
Wipe or spray a little oil in a pan, just enough to stop the mixture from sticking. When the pan is hot, turn the heat down to half. Spoon the mixture in and make pancakes about 6 to 8 inches wide. If you make them bigger than that they will be difficult to turn.
Give each cachapa a couple of minutes and then flip it. It should have golden singe marks.
Serve with a little butter and slice some cheese on top. No salt or sugar is needed: the corn and the cheese take care of that.
Two cachapas each will be enough for most people.
If you can’t get fresh corn, you can use frozen or canned, but get it dry before blitzing it. If it is too sloppy, ideally you add a little Harina PAN (see arepa recipe a few weeks ago). If not, try a little plain flour. You may also need to add salt and sugar – try one first before you make a whole batch.