Rice since ancient times has been China’s nutritious, congenially bland staple food. Sweetcorn, introduced in the early sixteenth century by Portuguese and Spanish explorers, is a relative newcomer to Chinese cuisine. Enthusiastically adopted by the people, it has become the third most important grain in the country after rice and wheat. Sweetcorn and rice cooked together make a nutritious and satisfying family-style dish. A versatile mixture, it provides a nourishing snack anytime and can also be used as a starter or main course. I sampled this version in Chengdu, Sichuan, at the Green Stone Bridge Free Market, the largest shopping area in the city.
Bring the water to the boil in a large pot, add the salt and then the rice. Bring back to the boil, stir several times, cover loosely, and let the rice simmer for 40 minutes at the lowest possible heat.
Add the corn and simmer for 20 more minutes. Stir in the spring onions and chilli bean sauce. Before serving, sprinkle on the crushed Sichuan peppercorns.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.