Ash Wednesday sweetcorn and spring onion pancakes

I plan to make these on Pancake Day but then on Pancake Day I instead have four pints and a burger and it is BRILLIANT. So I make them on Ash Wednesday, the holy day of Ashley Cole, who on this day rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

Like most people I forget about pancakes for most of the year, then for three weeks or so I remember how easy they are and start making them all the time: an alternative to toast or hash browns with a cooked breakfast, or a veg-bolstered accompaniment to whatever leftover meat I’ve got in the fridge.

Your basic batter mixture is one cup of flour, one cup of milk, an egg and a bit of salt. If they’re going to have vegetables in them too I want them thick and sturdy enough to hold it all together, so I add an extra half-cup of flour and another egg.

If the sweetcorn and spring onions are only cooked for as long as it takes to turn batter into pancakes they’re not going to be in long enough to taste of much, so first off I put them in the pan with some olive oil and some chilli flakes. They just need a short while to colour slightly and let the chilli pop a little bit. I mean, it doesn’t make a popping noise or anything but its red looks good flecked against the yellow of the sweetcorn, and anyway shut up, it sounds like the sort of thing a chef might say.

Chilli flakes popping, demonstrating that that is definitely a real thing that happens.

Once it’s all sufficiently popped I pour the veg into the batter I’ve been making, stir it all in and let it cool a bit so it’ll cook evenly. I’ve got a leftover pork chop from Saturday to have with this, so that goes in the oven now to be reheated. I get some more oil in the pan and let it get hot, tossing in a rogue sweetcorn kernel so I can watch until it starts fizzing away, letting me know the oil’s hot enough, like a canary down a mine.

In goes the batter in two gloops about hand-sized, and other than angling the pan every now and then to get some more oil underneath them I let them get on with it.

The one at the top will be ready to turn when the edges creep in and darken a little bit further. The other one needs to get its act together.

They need a few minutes on either side till they’re browned and crisped up enough not to just be a pile of wet flour. (This is key: do not serve up wet flour as a meal. I learned this the hard way in the heats of Junior Masterchef in the early nineties.) I reckon three should do the job, so these two go on a plate in the oven to keep warm while I do the third. This one doesn’t take as long because by now the pan’s a lot hotter than it was for its two pancake brothers.

Once it’s all on the plate along with the chop (which was originally griddled on Saturday, covered in a dry spice rub I came up with ages ago and jarred; I can’t remember exactly what was in it but there was definitely some Cajun seasoning and a bit of sugar to make it caramelise) I panic a bit because it looks like a slightly dry meal. If I had some soured cream I might’ve put some on the side but I don’t. Like a maniac I briefly consider yogurt, but decide to stick with what I’ve got.


It works: as I was hoping, the chilli adds no heat but plenty of flavour, and while the chop’s a little lukewarm because I’ve spent ages trying to get the lighting right to take pictures, it doesn’t need any sauce. And in a way, did not our Lord and Saviour Ashley Cole also not need any sauce when he fed all those people magic fish and chips that time?

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