The Succotash Recipe That Officially Won Over a New Southerner
The first time I tried succotash was approximately three weeks ago. I was at Real & Rosemary, which I have come to understand is a Birmingham institution of sorts. I reckoned if I was throwing myself face-first into the South, it might as well start with my mouth.
"Oh! Succotash!" I exclaimed. I'm new to the South, and in my lack of confidence, succotash came out "soo-ko-tash." I let each syllable warble around my tongue before coming out timidly. "Succotash," my lunch partner corrected, graciously. Armed with the proper pronunciation, I ordered it at the counter.
Succotash comes from the Narragansett word msíckquatash, meaning "boiled whole kernels of corn." Before coming to the South, my only knowledge of corn was creamed corn (questionable), corn on the cob (okay with butter in excess and only if the kernels don't get wedged in my teeth), and cornbread (with sugar, please). When I looked at the little ceramic bowl my succotash came in, I was eager to try this new take on corn.
I brought a forkful to my nose for a gentle sniff. This is my family's four-step system when trying something new. First, it must sound good. If the idea of something isn't quite palatable, it's a no-go, even if we've never laid eyes on the dish. Lima beans and corn didn't sound bad, so succotash passed to the next step: It must look good. It does. Then, it must smell good. This rendition was fragrant with corn and cream. If the food passes the three gatekeeping inspections, then, and only then, does one place it on her tongue.
The succotash tumbled off my fork and into my mouth in a nice warm squeeze of a friend. Crisp corn kernels met smooth lima beans and seasonal vegetables. They're far from my mind now, but the succotash is not. I liked it so much, I wanted to try it again.
So, when I tumbled across Katie Jacob's Edamame and Bacon Succotash, I thought I might give it a go. If I was going to put a succotash recipe in my arsenal, it might as well be this one. I am an edamame enthusiast—the soybean might be my favorite bean.
The ulterior motive? I have a pound of Costco bacon bits in my pantry, and I've only made a dent. To accommodate it all and make it my own, I roughly doubled the recipe (I'm a flippant sort of cook and rarely measure anything if I can get away with it), axed the red peppers (not a fan), and made the potentially poor decision of shelling two pounds of edamame (because I'm cheap).
The end result? Pretty tasty. I am content to eat it for the rest of the week. A little black pepper keeps things spicy if you really lay it on like I do. The corn gives crunch, the edamame a little creaminess that binds, and the basil a fresh sweetness. Do not leave out the scallions. I nearly did, but I ended up going back out to the store to fetch some. To my understanding, succotash is a side dish, but I confess I eat it like salad—with cornbread on the side.
With this succotash recipe, I've crossed one more thing off my Southern initiation bucket list, the others thus far being fried green tomatoes (yum), boiled peanuts (also yum), collard greens (good but not extraordinary to me), and a meat-and-three (a true experience). What's next? An Alabama football game, perhaps. I need to see what all the hullabaloo is about.