Several years ago, I ran into my mother’s Korean friend in the parking lot of a fabric store. Mom was still inside. “Where you mom? Over yonder?” she asked loudly, gesturing with her head to some spot past my shoulder. Listening to Southern drawl wrapped around the tongue of a native Asian language speaker is like finding a ginger root in your mac and cheese – not altogether unpleasant but definitely raises an eyebrow.
I have been accused of slipping into a Southern drawl, when I am agitated or very excited. “Yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” have always been part of my vernacular. Growing up, my favorite radio stations played country music (the classic kind, not that mainstream crap…no offense). I love collard greens with plenty of hot sauce (preferably Sriracha) and sweet jalapeño cornbread. I and others like me belong in a special category known as Crasians – Country Asians. We are the products of smooth acculturation.
Cornbread is one of those Southern things that you either hate or love, and usually that is based on your first experience. A sure way to fall into the hate category is if you have been a victim of dry cornbread, which is a crumbly, tasteless mess that might be marginally improved by a glass of milk. Mixed with fruits and nuts. Rebaked into a bread pudding of some type. Served with vanilla ice cream.
Anyway, I have been making cornbread for years, and it has taken a few tries to get it right. There is nothing Asian about this recipe, except for the fact that I make it; therefore, I declare it Crasian.
Noony’s Crasian Jalapeño Cornbread
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (don’t use self-rising)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 jalapeño pepper, halved longitudinally and thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. In a large pan, melt butter. Add sugar and blend well.
3. Remove from heat. Mix baking soda into buttermilk (the liquid will increase in volume).
4. Quickly add eggs to sugar and butter. Add buttermilk and mix thoroughly.
5. Stir in flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper until well blended. Add jalapeños and cheddar, if desired. Mix well.
6. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 9 baking dish. I like to use a cast iron skillet.
7. Bake for 30-45 minutes (depends on your oven quirks). It is very important that the batter is solid in the center but the top is just golden. I go on color most of the time.
8. Let cool completely before cutting. If you are not serving right away, keep the cornbread covered or wrapped. This will help hold in the moisture longer.
Great served with a warm bowl of chili this winter.