Hush puppies are perfect little representations of the South. They’re comprised of meal from the region’s only truly indigenous grain — corn — and like other mild-tasting southern foods, their flavor is enhanced by a trip to the fryer. Tender, golden brown and crisp, nothing beats a hush puppy between bites of fresh seafood and crunchy coleslaw.
Hush puppies are standard issue in the coastal south, but are also commonplace throughout the rest of the region. For proof, I turn to no less than Season 5 of FX’s Justified, when hunky Kentucky Marshall Raylon Givens is asked if he’s ever heard of falafel.
“Never cared much for it,” says Givens. “I always found it kinda like a cut rate hush puppy.”
Earlier this month, I attended the annual Association of Food Journalists conference, held this year in Tampa/St Petersburg. Southern food expert and cookbook author Nathalie Dupree gave a talk on whether Florida, with its vibrant immigrant mix and Caribbean influence, sets a traditional Southern table. One of the examples she gave in favor was hush puppies. Florida is all about ’em.
Like so many quintessential Southern dishes, there are a million ways to make hush puppies…and like so many quintessential Southern dishes, everyone believes their formula is best.
To me, the secret is lots of finely chopped onion – it adds depth — and forming each hush puppy with two spoons.
2 cups corn meal
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup milk
Canola oil for frying
Combine corn meal and flour. Add egg, mill and onion and combine. Heat oil in a saucepan or Dutch oven to 350 degrees. When oil is hot enough to fry, form hush puppies by scooping enough batter to fill one spoon in a rounded fashion, then using another spoon to help form an egg shape, or quenelle. Yep, you get to use that word and form down-home quenelles.
Drop into oil and cook for about three minutes, or until golden brown on all sides. Enjoy!