Poblano Corn Cakes on Black Bean Corn Sauce with Tomatillo Salsa

Poblano Corn Cake on Black Bean Corn Sauce with Tomatillo Salsa

Poblano Corn Cake on Black Bean Corn Sauce with Tomatillo Salsa

Fresh Northwest corn has arrived and with it, all sorts of chiles, peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos. Of course, the first cob or two of corn must be ceremonially eaten slathered with butter and right off the cob. But then, one must become more adventurous. Native Americans would grow corn and beans together, the beans using the corn stalks for support as they grew tall. So it is only reasonable to serve them together.


This recipe is a way to celebrate the onset of summer. The spicy and crisp corn cakes are mellowed by the black bean corn sauce. The fresh tomatillo sauce freshens the dish with a tangy, tasty crunch. The components of this dish may be eaten separately or together. They may be served as an appetizer or an entrée. Queso Fresco may also be sprinkled on the top. The complete recipe is vegetarian. Substitute almond or soy milk for the whole milk and it becomes vegan. For those needing a bit of encouragement to move from a meat-based dish just sprinkle some crispy bacon crumbles over it all. This way all the members of the family can be satisfied. Utilizing all of the corn parts including the kernels, scraped pulp and stalk make this a sustainable dish. The corn broth is optional but once tasted it becomes a must-have broth to keep on hand to enhance all varieties of dishes and it can be frozen for future use. Imagine the flavor of corn chowder made with this broth!

Corn Broth

1 quart


4 corn cobs, husked

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup white onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped (1 large carrot)

½ cup celery, chopped (1 stalk)

½ cup dry white wine

2 quarts filtered water

1 bay leaf

6 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon cumin seeds (pan roasted briefly)


Corn kernels sliced off of corn cob.

Corn kernels sliced off of corn cob.

1.     Slice the corn kernels from the cobs and reserve. With a teaspoon scrape the pulp from the cobs and reserve. Cut the cobs into several two-inch pieces.

Corn pulp scraped from cob after kernels have been cut off.

Corn pulp scraped from cob after kernels have been cut off.

2.     Heat the olive oil in a stock pot until it shimmers. Add the onion and carrots and sauté for about three minutes. Add the celery and sauté for another two minutes until all the vegetables are soft.

3.     Deglaze with white wine. Add the water, bay, thyme and cumin. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

4.     Simmer until reduced by half, about an hour or more. Strain through a mesh sieve, cool and reserve cold for up to three days. Or freeze for up to three months.

Black Bean Corn Sauce

2 cups


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon serrano chile minced (remove seeds and ribs if desired)

cup white onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup corn broth or filtered water (plus more if necessary)

cup or more scraped corn pulp (from 4 corn cobs)

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice


1.     Heat the oil in a sauté pan until it shimmers. Add the chile and white onion. Sauté for about four minutes, then add the garlic and cinnamon. Sauté for another two minutes. Deglaze with the corn broth. Remove from the heat.

2.     Place in a blender the sautéed vegetables with broth, corn pulp, black beans, salt and lime juice. Puree until smooth, adding more broth if necessary to achieve a sauce-like consistency.

3.     Taste, Think, Transform with salt and/or lime juice. Reserve and warm just before serving.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

3 cups


2 cups fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, small diced (about 10 ounces)

½ cup red onions, minced (about 1 ounce)

2 teaspoons serrano pepper, minced (about ½ ounce)

½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon sea salt


1.     Toss all the ingredients together. Taste, Think, Transform with salt and/or lime juice. Reserve at room temperature or chilled.

Poblano Corn Cakes

8 servings (recipe may be halved for 4 servings)


4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (halved)

1 cup poblano chile, small diced (about 1 large chile)

½ cup red pepper, small diced

2 cups fresh raw corn kernels

cup white onion, small diced

1 tablespoon New Mexico chile powder (or ancho or chipotle powder)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup corn broth or filtered water

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup corn meal

1 egg beaten

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt


1.     In a sauté pan heat two tablespoons of the oil until it shimmers. Add the chile, corn and onions. Sauté until softened about three minutes. Add the chile powder and cumin and sauté for another minute or two.

2.     Deglaze the pan with corn broth, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until most of the broth is evaporated. Remove and reserve until cooled.

3.     In a mixing bowl sift the garbanzo bean flour and baking powder. Whip the beaten egg, milk, cilantro and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the flour until smooth. Fold in the reserved corn and chile mixture.

4.     Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large cast iron pan until it shimmers. Cook the cakes in two batches by shaping four large dollops of batter into circles (use a metal ring for uniform circles). Cook for about four minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Cook the second batch likewise.

To plate the entire dish continue this way:

5.     On a plate, smooth the warmed black bean puree in a circular motion. Top with a warm corn cake. If desire, crumbled queso fresco cheese and/or bacon bits may be sprinkled over it all. Top with the tomatillo salsa. Serve hot.

Linda HierholzerENTRÉES