This side is inspired by the cheesy corn side dishes I’ve had at Korean barbecue restaurants.
If you like other corn side dishes like Mexican eloté, you will like this Korean corn cheese! The corn is cut off the cob then sautéed in a pan and tossed with a mayonnaise and gochujang mixture for a creamy and spicy sauce, green onions, cheese and of course the pièce de résistance – salty bacon. Most versions of this Korean-American recipe simply use mayonnaise, however, I like the added spice and flavor of gochujang. While it’s amazing as a side dish paired with grilled meats like bulgogi or galbi, it also works well as a cheesy dip with tortilla chips.
Bacon – I always choose to use thick-cut bacon so that as much bacon fat will render as possible.
Corn – While I cut kernels off the corn cobs and sauté until tender, frozen corn can be substituted in if needed.
Gochujang – Gochujang is a Korean fermented chili paste that adds some sweet and savory heat to any dish.
Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise adds a creamy element to the corn cheese.
Mozzarella – Shredded mozzarella is added in this side dish as well as on top. It melts into the corn and spicy mayo sauce creating a delicious side. While I typically like to shred my own cheeses, pre-shredded part-skim mozzarella works great in this recipe.
How to Make Spicy Cheesy Corn with Bacon
Step 1: Cook bacon.
Add the bacon to a medium cast iron pan. Turn the heat up to medium, and sauté, stirring occasionally until the bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Remove bacon.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving 2 teaspoons of the fat in the pan.
Step 3: Sauté corn.
Return the pan to heat then add the corn kernels and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the white parts of the green onions and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Step 4: Make spicy mayo.
In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise and gochujang until combined.
Step 5: Mix corn mixture.
Remove the corn to a medium mixing bowl then stir in the mayonnaise mixture, bacon, ¾ of the mozzarella and half the sesame seeds.
Step 6: Bake the corn.
Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Top the corn with remaining cheese and bake until the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. Broil until the cheese is golden brown, about an additional 2 minutes.
Step 7: Serve.
Top with the remaining green onion and sesame seeds. Serve immediately while hot.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
Swaps and substitutions
Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version of this Korean corn side dish.
For a more classic version of this recipe omit the gochujang and add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar to bring out the sweetness of the corn.
The mozzarella can be replaced with another mild, semi-soft cheese like Monterey Jack or fontina if needed.
How to Make with Canned Corn
While I prefer using fresh corn kernels cut off the cob and sautéed in the rendered bacon fat for flavor, canned corn or thawed frozen corn can easily be used if needed. To make the swap skip the step of sautéing the corn in the bacon fat and simply stir together the corn with the other ingredients in a mixing bowl before proceeding with the cooking instructions.
How to serve as a dip
While this makes for a great side dish it can also be served as a dip! The bubbling and spicy cheesy corn mixture tastes just as great scooped up with some tortilla chips as it does as a side.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this spicy cheesy corn recipe, give these a try: