Hush puppies are essential to a catfish fry, and they’re good with any other seafood platter, too. You make them especially good by keeping the texture light and including flavors other than that of the cornmeal. Fry them in the same oil that you used to fry the fish or chicken.
Although the original idea for hush puppies is to just roll the stuff you used to coat the fish into a ball, better results come from making a batter specifically for hush puppies. I use white self-rising cornmeal. As long as we’re on this subject, I’d like to make a gripe about restaurant hush puppies. Most ofthe time, they’re terrible: dry, flavorless, and adding nothing to the plate. Among the few exceptions is New Orleans Food and Spirits. Their version actually does have something in the way of taste, and the interior is fine in texture. I wish they had better catfish to go with it.
- Vegetable oil for frying, preferably oil previously used for frying fish or (best of all) chicken
- 1 1/2 cups white self-rising cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
- 1 cup corn, drained
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and membrane removed, chopped
- 2 sprigs parsley, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 3/4 cups milk
1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the vegetable oil while mixing the other ingredients. You want to get the oil up to 350 degrees.
2. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and Creole seasoning in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend completely. Add the corn, green onions, jalapeno, and parsley and stir to blend well.
3. In a second, larger bowl, beat the egg and blend in the milk and 1/4 cup of water. Add the dry ingredients from the first step to the wet ingredients, and mix with a whisk until no dry flour is visible. (Add a little more milk to the mixture if necessary. The mixture should be sticky but not runny or grainy.)
4. With a tablespoon, make balls of the batter. Let them rest five to ten minutes. Then fry four to six at a time until they’re medium brown; they should float on the oil when they’re ready. Remove and drain, and allow the oil temperature to recover before adding more hush puppies.
Serve as an appetizer with a mixture of equal parts of mayonnaise, horseradish, and sour cream, or with tartar sauce. Or alongside fried seafood or chicken.
Makes about eighteen hush puppies.