No southern fish fry is complete without a large helping of hush puppies, deep-fried cornmeal fritters that taste like heaven and onions. You can make them from a store-bought mix or from scratch. Some folks dip them in butter or tartar sauce; others prefer cocktail sauce or lemon. They are soul food in a golden brown breading.

The story goes like this: fishermen would take their dogs on overnight trips. For supper, they would batter the catch of the day and fry it over an open campfire. The dogs, hungry for some fresh fish, would howl and bay at their owners. After frying leftover batter in the oily pan, the fishermen would toss cooled fritters to the dogs while saying "Hush, puppies!"

Hush puppies go best with deep-fried catfish--one, because their tastes are complimentary and two, because you'll already have a pan filled with hot oil. If you've never had hush puppies, I recommend buying a mix at the grocery store. You can usually find hush puppy mix in the same aisle as the cornbread, flour, and other baking supplies. Or, you can brave the rapids and make your own from scratch...

Here's how:


So. Put your cornmeal, flour, onion and seasonings into a bowl. Add your milk and your egg; stir it all together until the mixture is semi-smooth. It should be pretty thick. Set that aside and take your pan.

You should've already used it to fry fish, so the pan's full of warm oil and all ready to go. If not, have enough oil so that the bottom of the pan is covered (at least 1/8th inch deep, but don't be shy). Let the oil heat up to about 350° F.

With a regular spoon or fork, scoop up a dollop of batter and drop it into the oil. The hush puppies will be done when they start to "float" in the oil (or when they turn a golden brown color). Remove them from the oil and set them to cool and drain on a bed of paper towels.

Hush puppies are best eaten warm, so do try to prepare them last. You can eat them plain or with any number of condiments, the strangest of which I'd ever heard was vinegar.

Pseudo_Intellectual says re hush puppies: aw, you should have included the damning addendum The Joy of Cooking finishes its description off with - "Sailors would throw them to their baying dogs saying 'Hush, puppies!' Sometimes we agree this is the best use for them." 8)

No puppies were harmed in the creation of this write-up.