The last days of summer


Lisa and Ivonne  are having a patio party to celebrate the last days of Summer –  La Festa  al Fresco  2007 event. All one had to do to join in on the fun is to prepare a dish that features a fresh local ingredient.

Whenever the “Hungry” hubby and I drive through the back roads on a beautiful sunny day, we pass through a lot of cornfields. I am also pleased to see that the supermarket I go to features locally grown produce so prominently at the entrance to the store. Seems like a popular movement of “eating local” is sweeping my city. 

I am not certain about the name of this dish. My sister-in-law said that it was called “swami” – so that name kind of stuck. I remember loving this dish when I first started working in Manila. The cook in the apartment I lived in made this frequently on Fridays (when we were not supposed to eat meat). I really enjoyed it, especially when eaten with a fried fish called “galunggong” and a bowl of steaming white rice.

I never got the recipe from her when I moved to the United States so for almost 8 years, I could only dream about this dish but I had never brought myself to try and figure out how it was made. Finally, 2 years ago, I had casually described to my visiting sister-in-law this shrimp-corn dish that I had been craving.

            “ You mean, swami?!” she exclaimed” I know how to make that!”

To say that I was thrilled was an understatement. It was pretty easy to make so I have no idea why I had never attempted to make this before then.

The only time-consuming part of this recipe is in the grating of the corn.

Swami (Shrimp with Corn)

  • 3          ears             corn (white preferred)
  • 1          lb.            shrimp (raw, medium, shell on, with heads preferred)
  • ½         bulb            garlic (crushed)
  • ½         bulb             onion  (diced)
  • 2          tbs            fish sauce
  • 1          bunch            spinach

Grate corn.

Use knife to further scrape corn into 2 cups of water and soak the corn rind in the same water.

Use the corn water to boil shrimp shells.

Saute garlic (with a little skin) and diced onion. Add shrimp and the fish sauce and sauté until the smell of fish sauce is almost gone.

Add grated corn. Use corn water to adjust consistency.

Add spinach when ready to serve.

Grate white pepper if desired.

Cooking Notes:

For the longest time, I was wondering why some dishes I cooked with garlic did not taste the same as the ones prepared from back home (Philippines). It turned out that I was not including some garlic skin when I was sautéing it. The skin adds a new dimension to the flavor of garlic, it intensifies the “garlicness” and adds a nuance of sweetness to it.

The type of corn you use also affects the amount of corn-water that you add. Yellow corn tends to thicken the dish a lot, while white corn gives a certain soupiness that I prefer.

If you are not squeamish, and if they are available, do get head-on shrimps. There’s nothing like stock made from shrimp heads – it really makes a difference to the depth of flavor to the food you prepare with it.


27 thoughts on “The last days of summer

  1. Swami — I've never heard of this, but it sounds (and looks) wonderful. I usually have everything on hand except the corn, and I'm lucky to have a wonderful farm stand right up the road. Will definitely try this.

  2. I second Lydia's comment.. WOW does this dish look wonderful, Sis!! This is truly one of those times when a simple "I'm so making this" will do.. because really.. I am SO MAKING THIS. Quite possibly tomorrow as we struck corn gold this weekend. 😀

    Thanks so much for joining in on the Festa! Love you!

  3. Veron – that looks so colorful and delicious. And I love the name – how mystical! Let's not write off summer yet, though. I'll bet you'll have some great weather and decent corn down in Virginia for quite a few weeks to come!

  4. this looks delicious!

    and next time i saute garlic, i am definitely going to try it with a little but of its skin. i can't wait to taste the results

  5. Veron, what a lovely dish. I am a huge fan of corn and shrimp and never had them in the same dish.Well, you have now just given the opportunity to try that.I'll see you at the party.

  6. Thanks Lydia – it's really a very flavorful dish. Try it before the corn season ends.
    Hey Sis – let me know how it turns out. And if you have any problem let me know.
    T.W. – I'm not really sure about the name. But it does sound pretty cute. Yes, I want to make it again before corn season truly ends.
    Let me know when you make it, Cynthia!
    Hi Rebecca! Now that I made the comment about the garlic skin , I really want to find out what's in the garlic skin that makes it taste sweet when cooked.
    Hi Valentina – oooh if you love corn and shrimp…you are going to love this!
    Thanks Anh!
    Thanks Big Boys Oven!
    Hi Peabody – I hope you'll make this and let me know how it turns out!
    Hi Maybahay – it is really made with ampalaya leaves but I do not know how fresh ones look like.
    Hi Jaden – I'm really not sure of the name – only that I've heard it called that and it is from the Philippines. If you have connections to some restaurants they can get you anything!Come over anytime!
    Hi Rosa – when I made this, I thought it would be enough for two meals. We ate the whole thing in one sitting.

  7. Veronica,

    You can call it whatever you like! I call it DELICIOUS! I adore corn and I love shrimp so it features some of my favourites. And it just screams summer.

    Thanks for bringing it to the festa!

  8. This is just fantastic! Such amazing colors, absolutely summer! And there's spinach! Then it's got to be perfect. And I think the name is cool.

  9. This looks crazy good Veron! And guess what..I have never had it! Can you believe it? How this dish escaped me in Manila is beyond me…but no more thanks to you 🙂

    I love eating galunggong too 🙂

  10. Thanks Everyone!
    swirlingnotions – the skin is barely discernible especially if you just added a little for flavor. In dishes where it's merely fried it curls up and almost melts into the garlic.
    Hi cooking ninja. Yes grate the corn until you see the core. Set this aside. Then try to further grate it into some water where you are going to boil the shrimp shells with.

  11. thanks veron. but i dont see the connection w the comment of joan25 re this dish. sorry if i am not able to comprehend what she was driving at. i will try suami this weekend. do you have any other pinoy dishes to share. tnx.

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