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Sweet corn cakes - dim sum dish - do you know about it?

We were at Happy Chinese in SF about a week ago and had a dim sum dish that we were not familiar with. It was called something like (phonetically)

sook mai ban

One of the staff said it was called sweet corn cake. This definitely had pork in it as well as corn. I thought how easy it would be to make without having to deal with dumpling wrappers. I've searched and searched (perhaps my searching skills are at fault) but I've been unable to find this. I found "sweet corn cakes" but they weren't dim sum and they didn't have pork in them.

Surely someone knows about this. They were really good and since they were the last dish we ate and we were already full, that's saying a lot. Thanks.

PS: My photo won't load.

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  1. This is as close as I can find to what it looked like but it definitely had pork in it.


    1. I found this recipe on HubPages:
      Thai Fried Pork and Corn Cakes

      1 lb of ground pork
      ½ cup cooked corn kernels (preferably cut from a cooked ear)
      1 Tbs fish sauce
      1/2 tsp salt
      2 Tbs Thai red chili paste
      ¼ cup coconut milk
      2 Tbs flour
      2 tsps of julienned lime leaves
      1 egg, beaten
      Oil for frying

      Mix everything but the corn and the lime leaves together. Knead mixture, as you would need a bread dough, for a good 5 minutes, until dense. Add the corn and the lime leaves, and knead just until it comes together.
      Form the mixture into 1 inch high patties. Refrigerate for a few hours before frying them. You can fry them right away, but this extra wait allows the flavors to marry, and the patties to solidify. To fry, heat some neutral oil for deep-frying – about 370 degrees. Drop the pork cakes into the hot oil in batches, and do not overcrowd. Cook until done, about 3 or 4 minutes.

      Serve with sweet dipping sauce (recipe below)

      Dipping Sauce for Thai Pork Cakes

      * 1/3 cup of white vinegar
      * 1/3 cup of water
      * 1 cup of white sugar
      * 1/2 tsp of salt
      * 1 or 2 Thai bird chilies, finely minced
      * 2 cloves of garlic, minced
      * About 1/2 cup of cucumber, finely chopped

      1. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt together, and boil until the sugar has dissolved. Cool, and add the garlic and chilies. Add cucumbers to the dip before serving.

      1 Reply
      1. re: onceadaylily

        Certainly sounds like a Thai take on it. Thanks.

      2. Given that it was Happy Chinese, I'm seriously wondering if this is a traditional dim sum dish. I've had sweet corn fritter type creations for dim sum at Vancouver, which was one of those avant-garde takes on dim sum by a forward thinking Hong-Kong chefs.

        But at Happy Chinese, given its pedigree, I doubt that's the case. I'm figuring that they were trying to just use up extra corn and ground pork. Perhaps it was just a regular Chinese type crepe, with corn and groun pork folded into the batter?

        1. How interesting. Definitely different from the kinds of dim sum I am familiar with, and I wonder which part of China it might have come from.

          A brief search for that term in Chinese (粟米餅) gives several very similar recipes, all containing pumpkin but no pork. Does that look like it? I don't have time now but someone can probably translate the recipe for you, and the addition of some pork does not seem to be out of place there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tarteaucitron

            I meant to include the link that has a picture and the recipe in Chinese in the previous post:


            The picture looks close enough to the one that c oliver posted.

          2. Thanks for the feedback. It was on a cart so no menu to refer to. And I agree that Happy Chinese is unlikely to be doing anything "avant garde":) But I gotta tell you in SF Chinatown it's been our go-to place for a couple of years. Their har gow are fantastic. Here are some pix. Excuse the non-Chinese names. These pix were for those mostly unfamiliar.

            1. Let's see if I can post the photo now.

              Oh goody!

              6 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                It looks like lumps of turnip or taro cake with pork and corn mixed in it.

                Here is a wiki with pictures of plain cake, but i've once bought it with nuts and stuff in it... Could this be another variant?

                1. re: SourberryLily

                  I admit to not having turnip cake cause I'm afraid I'll be too full before I get to my faves :) That patty shape argues against but who knows? Maybe they did just have some leftovers. We'll be in SF for a week over New Years so maybe I can solve the mystery then. Maybe go in the kitchen. They LOVE us cause we eat chicken feet :) (We're Caucasian.)

                2. re: c oliver

                  What you called "ban" is pronounced "beng" in Cantonese and can be called a cake but in this case is more accurately translated as a patty. Just seasoned ground meat with add-ins, pan fried in your case.

                  I had something like this that was made of pork, grated lotus root, and a bit of shrimp that was described as a specialty of Zhongshan in Southern China. It was served as a dim sum kitchen special but was also on the dinner menu.

                  Very bony fishes like dace, carp, or steelhead are often sliced very thinly to cut the bones and the chopped up to form the base of a common beng in Cantonese cuisine.

                  1. re: PorkButt

                    Interesting, i tried to translate this myself but the best conclusion i could make was that "ban" meant piece or portion.... But that would be in mandarin, i don't know cantonese well. Mai is probably "to sell", just like in siumai dumplings. Perhaps: "suk mai ban"? does that mean anything to you?

                    1. re: SourberryLily

                      I spelled it as "ban" because he pronounced it like English "ban" if that helps.

                      1. re: SourberryLily

                        As tarteaucitron mentioned above, it's 粟米餅, Cantonese Jyutping suk1 mai5 beng2, Mandarin Pinyin su4 mi3 bing3. The first two characters mean corn, the last character refers to food objects that are disc-shaped.

                  2. The English spelling comes up a million different ways. Sook mei beng is indeed a corn cake, but the one that I've had did not come with pork. Sook mei is corn (I believe). I had a sook mei bao in Zhongsang. It was a dessert bun. I