Note: Adapted from "A Great American Cook" by Jonathan Waxman. Paddlefish, salmon and whitefish caviar are available at Surfas in Culver City and select Whole Foods markets. The recipe makes a few more pancakes than are required for the dish.
2 medium red bell peppers
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespooon minced fresh chives
1/2 cup crème fraîche
4 ounces sliced smoked
2 ears corn, kernels cut off with a sharp knife
1/2 cup heavy cream
Butter or olive oil for frying the pancakes
1 to 2 ounces American caviar: paddlefish, salmon or whitefish
1/2 cup small fresh cilantro sprigs
1. Roast the peppers over medium-high heat on the stovetop or under a hot broiler, turning occasionally, until blackened and blistered on all sides, about 5 minutes. Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let them steam for 15 minutes.
2. Peel the peppers with your fingers and stem and seed them. Finely dice one of the peppers and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the remaining pepper. Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks to the pepper purée, blend well, and pour into a small bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and let cool slightly, then stir it into the pepper purée. Add the tablespoon of lemon juice and whisk well.
3. Sift the flour into a medium bowl, add a pinch of salt and the baking powder, and stir in the pepper purée. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold about one-fourth of the whites into the flour-pepper mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate overnight (bring to room temperature before proceeding).
4. Fold the minced chives into the crème fraîche. Cut the sliced salmon into eight portions.
5. In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the corn and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and the diced pepper, then add the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Immediately remove from the heat and keep warm.
6. Just before serving, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in 2 tablespoons batter for each pancake, to make 2 1/2 - to 3-inch pancakes. Cook the pancakes in batches until they've lightly browned on the first side, about 1 minute, then turn and cook for about 1 minute on the second side, adding more butter or oil as necessary to cook the remaining pancakes.
7. Place two pancakes on each of four plates. Top each one with a dollop of crème fraîche. Arrange one or two pieces of sliced salmon on each pancake. Place a small dollop of caviar on top of each pancake. Spoon the corn sauce around the pancakes and garnish with the cilantro.