Corn Salad with Cilantro & Caramelized Onions

By • August 4, 2011 • 99 Comments



Author Notes: The good recipes get passed along from friend to friend like a game of telephone, with each cook adding their own twist until the last version is barely distinguishable from the first. This corn salad is one of those. My recipe was inspired by my friend Sandra, who brought it to a BBQ one day, where it was love at first bite. Her recipe was inspired by our friend Chris, and who knows where it truly began but it always ends with an empty bowl. Simple summer goodness. When I told Sandra she should enter the recipe in this contest, she said that I should enter my version instead, so here we are....Pass it on. - Ms. TMs. T

Food52 Review: Over the years, we've met and loved many a corn salad. The cool, sweet crunch practically screams summer, and the variations are endless. Ms. T's version includes a technique we've never seen before: first, she has you cook down red onion in balsamic vinegar and olive oil -- as the onion pieces soften into silky, purple jewels, they simultaneously create a rich, deeply flavored dressing for the rest of the salad. Once you toss this luscious mass with crisp pancetta cubes, fresh cilantro and barely cooked kernels of corn, you've got a corn salad that breaks new ground. We couldn't stop eating it, right from the bowl. - A&MA&M

Serves 6

  • 6 ears of fresh corn
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Cook the corn on the cob in a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain hot water and plunge corn into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain corn and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Dice pancetta and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off most of the pancetta fat from skillet, leaving a little goodness left in the pan for cooking your onions. Add oil, onions, vinegar, sugar, and dash of salt to pan, and cook over medium-low heat. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  4. Cut corn kernels off of the cobs and place in a large bowl. Add onion mixture and cilantro and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and if it seems dry, add a little more olive oil.
  5. If you’re making this ahead of time, cover and put it in the fridge. Take salad out about 3o minutes before serving to take chill off. Stir in ccrispy pancetta just before serving.
Jump to Comments (99)

Tags: corn, Pancetta

Comments (99) Questions (8)

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4 months ago Mulzee

Corn season just started here in Australia and this was the first recipe I made. So simple to make and delicious to eat! Thank you!

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9 months ago LeeLeeBee

It's almost summer Down Under and I can't wait to start making this recipe again.

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about 1 year ago teemee

Every time I make this, there isn't a drop left. Thank you so much for posting this recipe, we absolutely love it!

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about 1 year ago Ms. T

Thanks for the kind words--so glad you like it!

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almost 3 years ago mward

This is such a great way to have corn...

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almost 3 years ago DAVILCHICK

I was in a rush so I cheated and bought Trader Joe's frozen. Totally yum and easy. Thanks Ms. T!

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almost 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks--glad you liked it! And good to know that frozen corn is an option--several people have asked about that.

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almost 3 years ago SEW

YUM!

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about 3 years ago java&foam

amanda and merrill were right about this one, i totally found myself sneaking bites of it in the kitchen before i took it out to my guests. its addictive and you cannot stop. thanks for sharing this great idea Ms. T!

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about 3 years ago adorrain

Are you kidding me??? This is amazing. Absolutely amazing. Thank you for this perfect August-in-the-midwest recipe. I can't wait to bring this to a potluck and be the star.

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almost 3 years ago Ms. T

Ha, this made me laugh. No joke. Glad you liked it :)

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about 3 years ago deanna1001

YES!!!! This was divine.

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about 3 years ago mzmecz

My husband loves corn but I do not. The caramelized onions were the ingredient that drew me in. Happily, very happily, we were both delighted with the result and will prepare this dish all summer long.

Thanks for a lovely contribution to harmonious living at our house.

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about 3 years ago ttfn300

Made this last week (with some slight variations) for a BBQ and it was a hit!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Glad it was a hit. What your variations? I love to hear about those.

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about 3 years ago Bevi

I made this for dinner last night. It was wonderful! I cut the recipe by one third because I had 4 ears of corn. It was addictive, a great combination of flavors, and the crisp pancetta
was the star of the dish. I think this combination could be made with either raw corn or grilled corn as well.

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about 3 years ago Bevi

And I just made another batch for a neighbor who has the "cilantro tastes like soap" gene, so I made a substitution of parsley for her. It was good - I prefer using cilantro - but at least makes this recipe accessible to the "no cilantro" crowd.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Glad you enjoyed it! My friend Sandra--whose recipe inspired my version--makes it with grilled corn, and our friend Chris--whose recipe inspired Sandra's--makes his with raw corn, so round and round we go :)

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Ha ha, yeah, I have some anti-cilantro friends too (I love them anyway), and I have substituted basil before. Not bad, but you can't beat the cilantro!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Fresh marjoram would be perfect in this, if you don't want to use cilantro. It's corn's best friend, though many people don't realize it. Use just the tiniest amount at first, adding more to taste, especially if you're picking your marjoram leaves off of a plant that's been in full sunlight/heat all day; the flavor of raw marjoram can be intense, especially under those circumstances. I was planning on making this tonight, and have just decided to try it this way! ;o)

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about 3 years ago Bevi

Majoram - thanks for the tip, AJ!

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about 3 years ago Rust Queen

Made this tonight and we love it. Think it could also be good with a finely chopped Serrano pepper mixed in

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Mmm, that sounds like a nice way to add a little heat. That would probably be good with grilled corn to take it in a Southwestern direction.

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about 1 year ago ktcita

As well as the chill, a little preserved lemon is delicious. It was an accidental combination when I mixed this salad with the Moroccan Carrot Salad with Harissa (also on Food 52) which has harissa paste and preserved lemon. Btw. I love this corn salad. Thanks Ms T.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks for the feedback--I'm so glad to hear that people are trying, enjoying, adding new twists and passing it on :)

@ yasminny: duck bacon sounds like a fantastic substitution! Where do you get duck bacon, I'd like to try that.

@ Lori Hahn: oooh, arugala and cherry tomatoes sound like a great compliment.

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about 3 years ago yasminny

I love this recipe! I substituted duck bacon for pancetta and it worked very well. Addictive said my husband. Thanks for sharing Ms. T!

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about 3 years ago jenniebites

mmmmm, the onions carmelized in olive oil AND balsamic? they are amazing. i have a large bowl in front of me right now. i will be sure to pass it on.

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about 3 years ago Lori Hahn

Yes, this is a winner! Made it for dinner last night and served it over arugula with some sun gold cherry tomatoes!

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about 3 years ago isabelita

Yummm! Cannot wait to try this dish. Caramelized onions and cilantro, delicious.

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about 3 years ago Mary McKnight

Just made this for supper -- so easy, and wonderfully delicious! This is definitely going to be making a reappearance on our table!

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about 3 years ago AnnP

This salad is so delicious! We tried it for dinner last night but didn't vote because we hadn't tried the other recipe (dairy restrictions) Thanks for sharing!

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about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Congrats! What a yummy salad, we enjoyed it very much!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations on the win, Ms. T! What a lovely summer salad.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Wow. I'm beyond thrilled. It has meant so much to me to get all these nice comments from wonderful cooks all over the place. Thank you all for making Food52 such a great community!

And thank you to my friends Chris and Sandra for the recipe inspiration. WE won!

Now on to cherry tomatoes :)

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about 3 years ago Midge

Hurray Ms.T!

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Congrats, Ms. T! A wonderful addition to Food52's Book2 :)

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats Ms. T, this is a really delicious dish!

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about 3 years ago Panfusine

congratulations on the win Ms.T!

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on the win!

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh yay for you! Perfect summer salad!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations Ms T, great salad.

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about 3 years ago TheSpicyRD

Beautiful recipe! Love the combo of corn and cilantro. Add pancetta and caramelized onions-yum!

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about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations on your winning recipe - a great contest!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thank you so much Liz. Your corn pudding was a very worthy opponent--can't wait to try it :)

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

This salad is really delicious! I was actually starting to get sick of corn in salads (horrors! I know), but this has brought me back around!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks--what a nice compliment :) Best to savor the corn while you can. Before you know it, you'll be sick of butternut squash and longing for the corn days...

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Good point, Ms. T

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about 3 years ago rooster

lovely, I am making it tonight...three of my favorite foods-corn, carmelized onions and cilantro! BTW, I have a corn kernel remover you can have....(:

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Great, let me know how it turns out for you!

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about 3 years ago SouffleBombay

This sounds amazing! Good luck!

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about 3 years ago lime lassi

I would not have thought to make a reduction sauce with the balsamic and red onion but it sounds spot on. Bought corn and cilantro from yesterday's farmer's market. Can't wait to try this !!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks Mom :)

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about 3 years ago csemsack

To die for! Made this tonight, loved, loved it.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks--so glad you liked it!

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about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Hi, Ms. T, So sorry I missed you in the Bay Area -what a great place to live and cook! Best of luck, Liz

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

It is indeed a great place to live and cook :) Thanks and best of luck to you also!

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about 3 years ago Keri Hague Beck

I am dying to try this recipe, Ms. T!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks Ker! It would be lovely with some New England seafood, al fresco by the beach :)

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Many congratulations, Ms. T! This looks really yummy! And I just noticed we're neighbors of a sort - I live in Mill Valley CA too!! I love having another food52er nearby!!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

How cool! We should meet up at the farmer's market someday...

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Would love to! And I just got finished with a big event this weekend and can now RELAX!

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

OMG I miss the Bay Area!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments. I'm truly touched and honored to get such wonderful feedback from the cooks whose recipes have made me drool for the last several months on Food 52!

BTW, does anyone know what tool they used to cut the corn off the cob in the photo slide show? I think I need one of those! I was planning to post a question on Food Pickle to see who had tips for removing the kernels without cutting them into juicy little bits. Corn pudding is lovely, but not when you are trying to make corn salad!

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about 3 years ago cookbookchick

Looks like the Oxo Good Grips Corn Stripper -- check it out on Amazon to see several pictures of it. I have an older Oxo corn stripper (also on see-able on Amazon) that I do not have much luck with. I used my Kuhn Rikon stripper the other day to pretty good effect, but the one in the Food52 slide show looks like it takes off more rows at a time.

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about 3 years ago cookbookchick

P.S. The Kuhn Rikon I have is the all-metal one that looks like it has a little face, but I think I'll pick up the Oxo Food52 used -- I'm always up for a new kitchen gadget!

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about 3 years ago cookbookchick

Correction: It's called the Oxo Good Grips Corn PEELER -- and no, I don't own stock in the company! :-)

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks for the tips, cookbookchick. I just noticed the link and video on Food52--I'm a little slow like that. I will definitely have to get me one of those!

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

My favorite tools are a good knife, a cutting board, and this technique:http://www.food52.com/blog...

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about 3 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations!

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about 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Best of luck & congrats!

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about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Congrats on the EP, this is on the menu for lunch tomorrow so I can decide which way to vote. Good luck!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks :) And I appreciate that you take your voting so seriously!

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about 3 years ago anne_a

Yummy!

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about 3 years ago Dessert's On Me

congrats! it looks (and im sure it tastes) wonderful!

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about 3 years ago Midge

Congrats Ms. T. Sounds so delicious!

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

My mouth is watering just thinking about those red onions caramelized in balsamic vinegar. I can easily see using that in any number of ways. Yummmmm! ;o)

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about 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Yummy, yum yum. Congrats Mrs T - well done!

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about 3 years ago Waverly

Sounds wonderful. Congratulations!

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about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congrats Ms. T! This looks like such a treat!

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats Ms.T on being a finalist. Your salad looks perfect!

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I love corn salads, and yours is beautiful. Congratulations!

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about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations on being a finalist! Love the red onion in balsamic vinegar.

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Congratulations on your EP and Luck to you on being a finalist, Ms. T! Such a delicious mixture of flavors :)

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmmm, this sounds outrageously tasty. Definitely will be trying it.Tomorrow!! Congrats. ;o)

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about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats! I had a feeling about this one....

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Congrats on being a finalist -- what a great recipe!

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about 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Congrats! Sounds delicious!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations! I had a feeling about your salad...looking forward to trying it soon.

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about 3 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations! Sounds great!

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thank you so much--I'm thrilled! And special thanks to my friends Sandra and Chris, since this recipe is really inspired by theirs :)

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

I love this recipe! Congratulations!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats, Ms. T! I knew this sounded awesome from the get go!

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about 3 years ago arielleclementine

Congratulations! Can't wait to try your lovely salad!

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about 3 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

Sounds delicious! I think I'll make this for a bbq next week!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations Ms T, your salad is seriously good!!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Yum! This sounds delicious.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thanks gingerroot!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds seriously yummy. Wish I had a bowl right now.

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about 3 years ago Ms. T

Thank you! Your thai creamed corn sounds delicious too--can't go wrong with the corn and cilantro combo.