Grilled Corn With Coconut Sauce

May 18, 2020 Updated: May 18, 2020

I’m drawn to food that straddles the worlds of savory and sweet—something that could be either but is committed to neither. And this is why pot ang is my favorite street snack when I’m in Cambodia. Grilled corn is already good on its own, but what makes pot ang special is the coconut sauce that coats it. The velvety sauce is mildly sweet and just as mildly salty. The pièces de résistance are the green onion specks stirred in at the last minute—simple and sublime. 

For the best result, use the finely milled rice flour sold at every Asian grocery store. Make sure you use the type made from long-grain rice rather than glutinous rice. The package will be labeled simply “rice flour,” not “glutinous rice flour” or “sweet rice flour.” Erawan is a great brand. You can use glutinous rice flour, or even tapioca starch or cornstarch, in this recipe, but I’ve found that anything other than long-grain rice flour turns the coconut sauce a bit slimy.

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ears corn in their husks
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

In a 1-quart saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and rice flour until no lumps remain. Put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce is velvety, like a light gravy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Taste and add more sugar or salt if needed. Remove from the heat. 

Prepare a medium-high fire (400 degrees to 450 degrees F) in a charcoal grill using the two-zone method. When the coals are covered with white ash and the grate is hot, place the corn, still in the husk, on the hold side of the grill. Cover and cook, turning the ears a couple of times, for 10 minutes. 

Remove the corn from the grill and carefully pull back the husks on each ear, exposing all of the kernels and leaving husks attached to the stem. Remove and discard the silk. Tie the husks in place with kitchen string. It should look like you’re giving each ear of corn a ponytail. 

Put the corn back on the grill halfway between the hold side and the hot side and cook, moving and turning them as needed, until they are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. 

Arrange the corn on a serving platter and let cool until slightly warmer than room temperature. Stir the green onions into the coconut sauce, then spoon the sauce over the corn, making sure the corn is well coated. Serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal” by Leela Punyaratabandhu. Copyright 2020 Photographs copyright 2020 by David Loftus. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill book cover
‘Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal’ by Leela Punyaratabandhu (Ten Speed Press, $30).