Corn with coconut milk (Ginataang mais)

When this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club theme was announced, I was incredibly excited. The theme was gata, which is Filipino for coconut milk. Anything made with coconut milk was fair game, and the posts so far have covered both savory and sweet bases. With the wealth of choices available, I expected to be overwhelmed by the task of choosing just one. However, my mind pretty much made itself up for me early on, and despite my attempts to steer it toward more creative lines, it stubbornly held on to its first choice.

It’s an understandable choice, since I’m in New Jersey and have access to incredibly sweet corn grown in a field right in our town. Corn with coconut milk, or ginataang mais, is very simple to make. You don’t even need to dirty your measuring cups. We have many versions of sweet porridge-type merienda (snacks) goodies made with coconut milk, and this one is the easiest. You can enjoy it warm or cold, and although I do prefer it cold during the summer, I always end up having it warm first because I simply cannot wait that long after it’s made.

The Ivory Hut: Corn with Coconut Milk (Ginataan na Mais)

The ingredients are fairly easy to come by, too. Just fresh corn (in a pinch, you can use creamed corn, but you really should try and get fresh corn), coconut milk, sugar, water, and sweet rice.

The Ivory Hut: Corn with Coconut Milk (Ginataan na Mais)

Want a closer look at that rice? I get my sweet rice from the local Asian supermarket. If you can’t find any, you can use sushi rice or short-grain rice. But if you’re able to score a bag of sweet rice, don’t you worry about what to do with all that rice. By the time I’m done posting all the other lovely stuff you can do with it, you’ll need another bag.

The Ivory Hut: Corn with Coconut Milk (Ginataan na Mais)

I love sweet rice. It’s an ingredient in many of my favorite Filipino desserts.

This recipe is easy enough to make with kids. You just grab a pot, pour in the contents of the can of coconut milk, fill the can with water, and pour the water in. Then you fill the can halfway with uncooked rice and top off with sugar. Pour that into the pot, and then fill the can with water and pour the water in again. And again. You’ll end up with the can of coconut milk, 3 cans of water, half a can of uncooked rice, and half a can of sugar all in the pot, not to mention a fairly clean can that you can then toss into the recycling bin. The only thing left to do is to boil it until everything gets nice and soft and thick, add in the corn, and boil again until the corn is cooked.

The Ivory Hut: Corn with Coconut Milk (Ginataan na Mais)

As kids, we enjoyed this after playing outside, or when we had an unexpected day off school because of a typhoon. It’s similar to rice pudding, except for the fact that the corn and the coconut milk make it taste nothing like rice pudding. In the Philippines, we made this with fresh coconut milk, often from a coconut picked that same day from one of our trees. Fresh coconut milk gives it such a richness that is lost when using canned coconut milk. I found that adding a few extra ingredients went a long way in trying to achieve the rich taste that I remember.

It’s a great afternoon treat to throw together. And my son Tim says it’s also a wonderful midnight snack. I bet it’d be good for breakfast too, though I’ll have to make a double batch next time in order to test that theory.


Ginataang Mais (Corn with Coconut Milk)
Serves 8

The addition of shredded coconut, butter and vanilla is optional and not traditional. Adding them helps boost the flavor of the dish, which is typically made with fresh coconut milk instead of the canned stuff. If you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh coconut milk, omit the optional ingredients.


13.5 oz. can coconut milk
5 cups water
3/4 cup sweet rice (you may substitute sushi rice or short-grain rice)
3/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 tablespoon salted butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
4 to 5 ears fresh corn, shucked and scraped to collect the corn milk

Boil the coconut milk, water, sweet rice, sugar, salt, and shredded coconut (if using) over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally. When rice is fully cooked and every grain is plump and sticky (the mixture will resemble runny rice pudding), add the butter, vanilla, and shucked fresh corn. Continue to cook, still stirring occasionally, until everything has thickened nicely. Take off heat and let cool. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.

Serve warm or cold.

The Ivory Hut: Corn with Coconut Milk (Ginataan na Mais)


31 thoughts on “Corn with coconut milk (Ginataang mais)

  1. Yum! We have a fridge full of Silver Queen from my in-laws and this looks like the perfect destination for some of it.
    I do hope you try it! I really wish I made a double batch, because I want some for breakfast now. -ivoryhut

  2. Awesome that you created a sweet dish for this challenge. Coconut milk adds such a wonderful flavor to sweet dishes. Lovely photos too. love the atmosphere in them

  3. That looks so much better than the usual rice pudding. And I love rice pudding to begin with!
    I love rice pudding too, but this really is so much better. I could eat it all day and although you can cook this until the corn is completely soft, I like to leave it with a bit of crunch. It makes me think of summer when corn is sweet enough to eat raw. -ivoryhut

  4. Looks good. IS sweet rice the same as sticky rice?
    I don’t think I can find it here in Bergen. I wonder how it taste if I change it with risotto rice?
    Yes, you can use sweet rice or sticky rice. Not sure how it would work with risotto or arborio rice, but since that’s short grain too, I think it’ll work fine! -ivoryhut

  5. This looks awesome.. I’ve never tried this type of dessert but can’t wait to try it. I have everything I need to make it!

  6. As Mark Twain said “the coldest winter is summer in San Francisco”. Yep, it’s cold and foggy right now and as soon as I get home, I’m making this. To keep me warm inside and bring me back to Manila. Salamat!
    Great blog, btw.
    Hi Cristina! Thanks for visiting. Would you mind sending some of that cold weather over? It’s hot and muggy here in NJ, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this anyway. It does bring me back to Manila, which is always a good thing! -ivoryhut

  7. I love coconut milk in just about anything, and this looks like the perfect dish for it. I am definitely trying this soon.
    I love coconut milk in almost anything, too. It’s a good thing Filipino cuisine uses a lot of it. I do miss fresh coconut milk, though. There’s nothing like it. -ivoryhut

  8. Oh wow! This brings me back to my childhood, my grandma used to make this every weekend, one of my favorite comfort food. I’m a chocolate feid but I would rather have this than champorado :)

    Thanks for the recipe. I never got the chance to ask for my grandma’s recipe, she passed away when I was young.

  9. Well, dang. I just figured out my reason to visit the Asian market down the road from me for sweet rice. (Don’t you just love that literally any kind of store you could ever want is found on the US 22?)

    This kind of reminds me of a creamed corn recipe I make, as it calls for sugar too. But oh, man. I DO want this for breakfast. Right now.

  10. beautiful. something so simple yet cooked with utmost care. although it has a similar tone with champorado i’ve never had this before. this is one of those concoctions that reminds you of childhood. :) i love it.

  11. My uncle is Filipino and growing up he would make this for us kids! I’m still trying to get him to show me his recipe but this one is just as good too! I’m not Filipino but I was brought up on some of the great food like his coconut chicken with eggplant and cabbage, and also his “panset”!

  12. I didn’t know what my mom made tonight and she made exactly the same one like this so now I know it’s Ginataang Mais because I had always forget all the names of our Filipino foods except not all of them that I don’t know. It’s one of my favourite! But I always want to learn how to make Ginataang Mais on my own but probably next time.

  13. I think I must have messed up. Mine kept trying to boil over and I must not have cooked it long enough. 1 can coconut milk, 3 cans of water, half can of rice, half can of sugar, to shaka shaka’s from a salt shaker. I put it on 4 (my stove goes to 10) and I stirred occasionally. I also threw in a pinch of saffron.

    I brought it up to a boil and it kept trying to boil over, so I lowered the heat to a simmer but I worried I was going to burn the rice, so I added the corn, stirred, and after 5 minutes of boiling dumped the pot into a bowl. I have rice corn soup.

    Should I return it all to my pan for more cooking? A bigger pan perhaps? *frustrated*

    1. Hi Hannah! Sorry you’re having trouble with it. What kind of rice did you use? Is the rice cooked enough? If it is, and if the liquid tastes right but still feels soupy, I would just add a bit of cornstarch slurry to thicken it up. (Start with 1 teaspoon cornstarch in 2 teaspoons water, then stir it in over heat. You want the mixture to be hot as you add the slurry in so that it thickens properly.) A lot of the thickness comes from the starch from the rice, but if the rice doesn’t release enough starch, it won’t be as thick as it should be. If the rice isn’t cooked enough yet, I would go ahead and return it to a pan (perhaps try a wider pan, so more of the liquid evaporates) and just stir regularly to prevent the rice from burning. Hope that helps!

  14. I just made another version of this today. I think what the instructions lacked and what caused Hannah’s problem was keeping the mixture at a boil. Once it boils you should lower the temp so to simmers until cooked. At least that’s how I do it.

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