Thursday, November 25, 2010

KK: Hopi Boiled Corn Cakes

In my previous installment of Kagashi's Kitchen I discussed the importance of the Three Sisters to Native American cuisine. Once again we will revisit this trinity and make an authentic Hopi dish- corn cakes. Corn (maize) was sacred to the tribes of the Southwest and used for everything from cooking to religious cleansings (slain deer would have corn meal dusted upon their noses as thanks). Furthermore the tribes of the Southwest used corn to its full extent- bread, pancakes, porridge, they even cooked up the black fungus which plagued some of their crop as a delicacy. No where near as daunting to eat, these treats are somewhere between a dumpling and cornbread, quite sweet, and ridiculously easy to make

Famous photograph of four Hopi women grinding corn by Edward Curtis (1907)
-Small mixing bowl
-Slotted spoon
-20 clean corn husks (you can find them easily in the Hispanic section of your supermarket)
- 1 large cooking pot

- 1 c (128 g) corn meal (extra historically accuracy points if you can find blue corn meal! One of the strains of corn the Hopi cultivated was of a bluish tint)
- 1/2 c (120 mL) honey (any variety)
- 1/4 c (60 mL) water

Before engaging in this whole process (well... wash your hands...) set some water on the boil. You'll thank me later when you're not waiting around for it to heat up. Measure out your cornmeal and honey into the bowl and slowly incorporate the water until you have a thick, sloppy mixture. If it's at all runny, add more cornmeal- it can't be running all over your husk wrappers.

Sludge! Huzzah!
Tear up 2 to 3 of your husks into ribbons and set them aside somewhere handy. Place a spoonful or two (but not too much, you don't want them bursting at the seams) in the center of one of your husks.

A tablespoon or so.
Crease the edges lengthwise so that even if folded thus, your batter won't dribble out.

A little boat of corn!
Next, fold the skinnier ends of your bundle inward towards one another. Using one of the torn-up ribbons of husk, bind these ends together to make a little, contained parcel.

Consequently- I'm considering wrapping my Christmas presents like this.
 Repeat until you've run out of batter- I made about 10 parcels. Next (in batches of 4-5), take your cakes by the ties and lower them into the boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Use your slotted spoon or a frying spider to fish them out.

 Let them cool for 10 minutes before using a pair of kitchen shears to cut the binds on your dumplings/cakes (dumplakes?). The cakes are a bit mealy, but sweet. I like mine with a smidgeon of jam (choke cherry would be very appropriate for the recipe) on the side.

Served with a side of cherry preserves.
These would be lovely on a tea service alongside the typical scones and muffins, so why not mix things up a bit? These would also be a nice addition to chili, particicularly spicy ones that could use a soothing element of sweet and starchy.


  1. Pleasant day to you,

    Oh yum, I'm not Hopi but I do love my tribes Native foods and well, I've been lucky to try foods from other tribes over the years. And these corn cakes are just way too scrumptious.

    I hope you have an extremely wonderful and thankful day no matter how you spend it.

    Please do stop by anything for a spot of tea.

    Happy Turkey Day,
    Mad Scientist

  2. Sound and look yummy! Will have to try this out.


  3. Hmmm sound good.. but I can't find corn husk in France :( Is there an acceptable substitute? I was thinking of using maybe masoulqa (brik pastry), do you think it'll be okay? Thank you for your very nice blog.

  4. kineko-you can always order dried corn husks online. they're pretty cheap and easy to ship.