One of our favorite dishes involves rolling a piece of cod in corn and then sautéing it until the corn is somewhat caramelized. Then it bakes until the fish is cooked through. Here's the issue - one in five times, the corn actually won't stick to the cod, and then we have corn, cod, and a large mess. The corn is still in kernel form - that's why the sweet, caramelized thing is so delicious. How do I get the corn to consistently stick to the cod without battering and frying the thing?
Interesting. I have been a chef for over 20 years, and I have never heard of anybody using whole corn kernel as breading. I have used cornflakes and cornmeal hundreds of times, but never whole corn. I can see how delicious this would be when the sweet-corn caramelizes, but it is not going to stick without some sort of batter. It is physically impossible. I would just use a simple egg batter, no flour or starch. That would be nice and light, and give the corn something to adhere to.
Generally when attempting to bread things, you need a very thin layers alternating between wet & dry.
So, I'd recommend trying:
- Spread the corn out on a sheet tray and bake in a low oven to ensure the individual kernels are dry
- Pat the fish dry, or better yet, coat in a very thin layer of corn starch or flour (then shake to remove any excess)
- Dip the fish into an egg wash (beaten egg + a little water), shake off the excess, then dip into the corn.
It's possible that you might want to let it sit for a few minutes before frying; generally when dealing with breading, you'd put it on a wire rack so the wet layer will set up just a little bit ... but I'm guessing the corn would get knocked off. You might try instead setting it down on some waxed paper for a bit.
If this ends up tasting like raw starch (as the corn is thick enough I don't know if it'll cook the starch layer), try the just patting it dry.
If that doesn't work ... then we have to try to get the corn to stick directly to the fish. You might try:
- Get the corn just slightly damp (this is going to be the tricky part), and spread out on a sheat of parchment or waxed paper. (oiling the tray might work too, but then you have to be careful about not rolling the corn around and getting it coated in oil)
- Pat the fish dry.
- Place the dry fish on the corn
- Wait a couple of minutes, then attempt to lift the fish up; hopefully, it'll stick better to the fish than to whatever the corn is sitting on. You may need to use a spatula to lift it out.
As this just wouldn't work with whole kernels straight from the cob, I am assuming you are using canned sweetcorn. The trick would be to thicken the canning liquor with a bit of cornstarch so the kernels more reliably adhere to the fish.
If you somehow aren't using canned corn, but fresh or frozen, try velveting the fish - marinading in a mixture of oil, eggwhites and cornstarch with other seasonings added. In addition to improving the texture of the meat, it will also glue the corn kernels to the fish, and responds well to high-heat cooking methods, such as sauté. Most velveting marinade recipes are asian, but you can substitute or omit the mirin vinegar and other seasonings for a different flavor profile.