Starters

November 22, 2021

Southern Hush Puppies

Southern Hush Puppies

There are not many cities in the world that I enjoy visiting more than Charleston, South Carolina. One of my best friends lives there and I have been there at least a dozen times! Charleston has it all. The uptown night scene, the historic downtown markets, and of course, the beaches. But the best part about Charleston has to be the food!

Most of the restaurants  are small group, or singular restaurants, started by locals or those who visited and decided to never leave. With the local ownership, comes the local flavors. With influences from cuisines such as Homestyle Southern, Caribbean, French, Cajun, Creole, and New England Styles, Charleston has crafted its own cuisine that many refer to as Low Country Cooking.

Low Country Cooking consists of recipes like Shrimp & Grits, Chow Chow, Buttermilk Biscuits, Red Eye Gravy, Frogmore Stew, Fried Green Tomatoes, and my personal favorite, the Hush Puppy. The hush puppy…… I have to take a break everytime I say the word to take some time for a personal reflection on all the great memories I have of eating hush puppies.

What are Hush Puppies?

So now that you know that one of my favorite things to eat all time are hush puppies, you may ask yourself, what are hush puppies?

The best description for explaining a hush puppy to someone who has yet to have the pleasure of trying, is to describe it as a cornbread fitter. Hushpuppies, which can be flavored by many different herbs, spices, and sweeteners, are essentially a batter that is made with eggs and cornmeal that is fried in the shape of little balls till the point where the batter is no longer liquid on the inside, and is nice and crispy on the outside.

Where did Hush Puppies get their name? The origin of the name hushpuppies has has tons of fun stories as to where they got their name, such as:

  • People would fry pieces of cornbread and throw it to the dogs to “hush” them.
  • Or that they were a snack that was intended to silence the “dogs groaning in your belly” when hungry.
  • Or that the fantastic smell given off while frying would draw out all the hungry people and dogs and that the maker would have to tell the people and puppies to hush.

But the name became official in the US when Walter Thompson created the Hushpuppy Corporation of America and started selling his mix across the USA in 1948.

Ingredients for Southern Hush Puppies

These southern hush puppies are light, crispy, and perfectly soft on the inside. Here's your grocery list:


  • Cornmeal: Helps bind the batter and gives the hushpuppies their famous “corny” flavor.
  • All Purpose Flour: When we first made the hushpuppies, we tried making it only using cornmeal. The batter did not hold together that well and had a bit of a coarse and grainy texture. To fix this, we tried replacing half of the cornmeal with all purpose flour. The result was a soft corn fritter that held together nicely when fried. The flour helps bind the hushpuppy and smoothly fills in all the gaps in the cornmeal keeping the texture smooth and fluffy.
  • Egg: Used as a binder to hold everything together.
  • Leaveners: We use baking soda and baking powder to not only keep the hushpuppies light and airy, but also to help promote crisping on the outside layer.
  • Sour Cream/Buttermilk: The ratio between buttermilk and sour cream might be the true secret that makes this particular recipe so delicious. When using only sour cream we found the hushpuppies became too dry when fully cooked and when we used only buttermilk, we found that they did not have as nice of a structure and texture. They were almost too soft and light that they did not hold up when topped with honey. The balance found when using equal parts of each is perfection, yielding a soft but sturdy hushpuppy that remains moist and almost creamy, when fried.
  • Flavor Enhancers: In this recipe we love to use a lot of flavor enhancers because so many ingredients seem to compliment hush puppies and cornbread so we figured, why not? We use honey, paprika, lemon, green onion (scallion), parsley, garlic, worcestershire, and tabasco. Each ingredient serves its own purpose and helps elevate the flavor and keeps you coming back after each bite.
  • Fryer Oil: For deep frying, we typically use vegetable or corn oil but you can certainly use many other types. The key is to use an oil that has a neutral flavor and high smoke point that will not start to deteriorate when heated for long periods. Best to keep your nice oils such as fine “EVOO” and truffle oils in the cabinet for this recipe.

Tips on making the best southern hush puppies

  1. Do not overmix the batter: Once the liquid is added to the flour, you start to develop the gluten. By mixing the batter, you stretch and agitate those gluten molecules which make the batter dense and gummy. The key to making a light, crisp, and airy batter is mixing the batter only as much as is needed to bring the batter together. When mixing in the solid ingredients, try using a rubber spatula and gently “fold” in the ingredients instead of mixing.
  2. Keep the batter cold: When the batter gets warm, it becomes tough and gummy when fried.
  3. Do not overload the oil/fryer: When frying, be careful not to overload the oil by adding too many at once. If you do, not only will the hushpuppies all stick together in one large clump, but the temperature of your oil will drastically drop and then the batter will not crisp up quickly. Instead, the hushpuppies will soak up the oil in the fryer and you will be left with soft and soggy hush puppies.
  4. Adjust the thickness of the batter accordingly: The consistency of the batter should look similar to cornbread batter, but just a little bit thicker. If you are unsure of the consistency, feel free to fry one and see how it works. If you want it to have a denser texture, similar to cornbread, add a little more cornmeal or flour. If you want the hush puppies to be lighter and have a soft interior, more like a fritter, keep the batter on the wetter side.

If you can't make a trip to Charleston to try hush puppies, this is hands down the best recipe for you to make them at home. It will not disspoint!

Cheers and eat well!

Southern Hush Puppies

With a batter made from a combination of sour cream plus buttermilk and the addition of various spices and herbs, these fried hushpuppies will have you thinking you are in Charleston, South Carolina.

Author:

Jamie Imlah

Prep:

10

min

cook:

5

min

total:

15

min

serves:

6

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • The zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup scallion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon italian parsley (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled & chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 bumps worcestershire
  • 3 bumps tabasco
  • Oil for frying
  • Honey (to garnish)

Instructions

Making the Batter

  1. Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with oil so that it is at least 4 inches deep.
  2. Heat the oil on medium-high heat until you reach 325 F.
  3. While the oil is coming up to temperature, prepare your hushpuppy batter.
  4. Start the batter by picking and chopping the parsley, chopping the chives, chopping the scallions, and chopping the garlic. Set aside.
  5. Crack your egg and whisk to break up the yolk.
  6. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and whisk to incorporate evenly.
  7. Zest and juice the ½ lemon into egg mixture.
  8. Add the honey, worcestershire, tabasco and sugar into the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
  9. Measure out and combine the ap flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt, pepper, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl and then add it into the egg mixture, mixing gently to break up all the clumps and to combine.
  10. Once the batter forms a singular batter with no dry spots, gently fold in the garlic, parsley, chives and scallions. (The batter should look slightly thicker than cornbread batter.)

Frying the Batter

  1. Once the oil has maintained a temperature of 325 F, you want to gently drop about 1 heaping tablespoon worth of batter into the oil. (you can fry about 4-6 hushpuppies at a time.)
  2. After about 2 minutes, gently tap on one side of each hushpuppy to flip it upside down so that the other side may cook in the oil. After another 2 minutes, all hushpuppies should be a beautiful golden-brown on each side. Remove them from the oil, sprinkle with a light pinch of salt and drizzle with some honey before enjoying.

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