Delicious Vietnam #3. Recipe: buttery fried corn kernels

Ngô Chiên Bơ (buttery fried corn kernels)

Just a blink and now it is already July. Oh time, you are playing with me right? I still have tons of resolutions from the beginning of the year, which I have not even got close to…

Never mind. One thing I am proud of so far is the start of Delicious Vietnam. After the first two months, I feel rather good. Delicious Vietnam has become a point of reflection for me.

Lately I’ve been playing some old Viet music. By old, I mean really old, something can be classified as vintage since most of it were from the pre-1975 era. (1975 is an important mark in Viet history, both politically and culturally). For me, music from that era is beautiful. The lyrics are romantic, reflecting the French influence at the time. Melody wise, it’s interesting – there is a blend of both western and traditional rhythm.

Such music, though, is not my sister’s cup of tea. That is fine since my sister and I are quite different. So different some say we don’t look like siblings. But I tell you, at least we have something in common – the love for Viet food. We can actually spend hours talking about our favourite food, from the dishes that our mom and grandmothers cook to those street snacks in Hanoi.

This crispy corn kernel dish is one of them. Known in Vietnam as “ngô chiên bơ” (literal translation: deep-fried corn in butter), it is a relatively new snack that appears in recent years. It is deep-frying goodness – crunchy, buttery, sweet and salty corn kernels. Kids (and ehem.. young/old adults) love ‘em.

Of course, hardly any Vietnamese would eat anything deep fried in pure butter. The buttery flavour comes from the use of custard powder and a tiny bit of butter (or margarine) in the oil. This is a favourite way of ‘butter-frying’ corns and potato chips in Hanoi. And I tell you it’s just purely delicious. My sister is a happy girl whenever she finds this on the table.

There are still a few days left for Delicious Vietnam #3! Do join us! And the host of this month is Anne and Mike of Budda Bellies. Information can be viewed here!

Ngô Chiên Bơ (buttery fried corn kernels)

Ngô Chiên Bơ {buttery fried corn kenels}

Ngô = corn; Chiên = deep-frying {this is a southern Vietnamese word); and is butter! This is a great snack, or can be served as part of an Asian meal.

Use fresh corns if available. Otherwise, frozen or canned corn kernels are your best friend (edit: – skip the boiling part). The ratio of custard powder : cornflour is around 1:1 ~ adjust depending the moisture of the corn.


4 fresh corn cobs, clean, and separate the corn kernels

About 1/2 cup custard powder

About ½ cup corn flour

Salt + pepper + chilli powder

Oil to deep fry

50g butter

Some spring onion, green part only, chopped (optional)


Boil the corn kernels in salted water for around 4 minutes. Drain well and cool.

Mix together custard powder and corn flour. Add in some seasoning (salt, pepper, chilli powder), and mix well with the corn kernel. Set aside for 3-4 few minutes.

Do another coating of flour mixture with the corn kernels. ( I didn’t have time to cool my corn properly, so the flour coating was not great. Better flour coating = crunchier result)

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Heat large amount of oil and the butter in a deep saucepan. Add in two-three kernels. The oil is ready when the kernels are “fried” and golden. Now add in the corn mixture. (Depending on how large your pan is, fry the corn mixture in 2-3 batches).

Once the corn is golden, take out and drain. Taste and season. Serve hot.

One reader of this blog emailed me a list of questions about the recipe. I think it’s good to answer them here to benefit everyone.
I would have to apologise if my recipe writing is not that clear – I’m not a pro ya know? Any meaningful question is welcomed. I’ll try my best to answer :)
(1) Custard powder
In Vietnam, we refer to a certain brand of custard powder called “Bot Su Tu” (Lion brand flour). It’s essentially custard powder.
The one I refer to is what common in Australian supermarket – made out of wheatened corn flour, a bit of vanilla and yellow food tint. I’m not sure if the custard powder found in another country is different?
If you cannot find custard powder, use extra corn flour, and a bit of vanilla.
(2) Butter + oil together – “Since butter has lower burning point, will it burn?” – Yes, that’s true. But I use quite a low amount of butter compared with large amount of oil, so it’s not so bad. If you are concerned with this, fry the corn mixture in oil, then drizzle with melted butter as the reader suggested.
(3) You used Chilli powder, why does your dish had nice golden color? Well, I just use a bit of the normal chilli powder – not a lot so it doesn’t affect the appearance of the dish as such. I also tend to season the corn more after frying, too.
(4) Do I use white pepper? – Yes.
(5) Does chilli powder overwhelm delicate corn flavour? Uhm, no, not for me. But this is personal preference.
(6) Other flavouring? Like garlic, tarragon, lemon zest etc.? – I’m sure any flavour can be experimented. In the Vietnamese kitchen, we don’t have access to tarragon or use lemon/lime juice to flavour our fried food as such.
(7) “Dry the corn kernel first, then dip in flour”? But moisture help to adhere flour to the corn.
That’s right! I didn’t say dry actually, but drain the corn kernels well so they don’t take on too much flour.
Hope this helps a bit!

Ngô Chiên Bơ (buttery fried corn kernels)

31 Responses to Delicious Vietnam #3. Recipe: buttery fried corn kernels

  1. Tangled Noodle says:

    This is totally new to me and even before I've tasted it, I already love it! Buttered corn is such a marvelous food but this takes it a step further with added crunchiness from the deep-frying. Now, all I have to do is figure out where I can find custard powder . . .

  2. Anh says:

    @tangled noodle: Supermarket should stock it. Or else, you can use 100% corn flour + a bit of powdered cheese?

  3. shaz says:

    This looks so interesting and sounds delicious. I love your delicious Vietnam series, maybe soon, I'll get the time (and courage) to take part.

  4. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    Delicious! I love the idea.

  5. Hong-Xuan Huynh says:

    simple yet tasty, I like! :)

  6. tasteofbeirut says:


  7. Maria says:

    Hey this looks interesting! I went through a massive corn loving stage recently and this recipe could just spark that back to life! Haha

  8. Ladybird says:

    Oohh I'd like to try this.. I am going through a bit of a corny phase at the moment.. I'd be a bit scared of popping the corn though. Those little suckers can go a bit wild in the pan!

  9. Faith says:

    Corn is one of my favorites but this dish is completely new to me…it sounds delicious! I love the crispness of the corn!

  10. Ju (The Little Teochew) says:

    OMG Anh! I am going to make this!!! It's calling out to me.

  11. Hannah says:

    This is a corn preparation that is totally new to me, but it sounds so simple and so good! I tend to go a bit corn-crazy in the summer, so I'll have to add this to my list of dishes to make.

  12. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    The custard powder i this dish sounds very I'm curious to try this Anh! Thanks for sharing!

  13. s says:

    delicious..I have a huge packet of frozen corn. and i will try this. Great snack.

  14. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Yummy snack. I have not used custard powder before. Avail. in supermarkets?

  15. Anh says:

    @Penny: yeap. All supermarkets should stock custard powder :)

  16. FFichiban says:

    Yuummmmm deep fried corn in butter!! What is tehre not to love?

  17. OohLookBel says:

    Anything deep-fried in butter must be good. And why would you bother draining it? Just suck it out of the pan with a straw, I say!

  18. Ana Powell says:

    Delicious and so good looking

  19. David says:

    If only I had corn in the house I would make this right now….*sigh*

  20. Johanna GGG says:

    I love how blogging serves up such wonderful new ideas – corn in custard powder sound amazing – deep frying is scary but I already know I would love this (it is savoury, right?)

  21. Jo says:

    Looks really good and would make a great snack in front of the telly.

  22. Little Corner of Mine says:

    Mmmm…must smell great with the buttery fragrant!

  23. Anh says:

    JOhanna, it is one of those sweet-salty snacks that we Asians are crazy about. :)

  24. Lisa (bakebikeblog) says:

    Oh this looks so delightful! Thankyou for sharing :)

  25. Henna @ AboutDivorce Blog says:

    if you are buying super market corn or tinned variety, there is no need to boil them as they are already tender, just put the seasoning and do whatever you want with them, they will taste as yummy as you like them

  26. Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) says:

    This look beautiful and good.

  27. MaryMoh says:

    Mmmm…this looks very delicious! I love sweet corn but never thought of frying like this. I have to try. Thanks very much for sharing.

  28. Anh says:

    @Henna: thanks for reminding me about the canned/frozen corn kernels! Edited the post :)

  29. Indonesia-Eats says:

    Agree with your opinion that Asians love sweet savoury snack as I do too. 😀

  30. Bonnibella says:

    I never tried corn this way but it's so simple and corn is one of our favorite side dishes. I will have to make this soon.

  31. Kaylah says:

    This was absolutely wonderful and very similar to what I ate through Vietnam. cảm ơn nhiều!

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