In the South, hush puppies are considered a side dish. This version, gussied up with corn and crabmeat, makes a terrific appetizer, especially when served with a zesty sauce.
You'll need a thermometer to monitor the frying oil.
Make Ahead: The hush puppies are at their best when made to order, but you can fry them and hold them for an hour in a 200-degree oven. The batter can be made several hours in advance. The sauce can be made and refrigerated 2 days in advance.
Servings: 9 - 12 appetizer
- For the sauce
- 1 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon)
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, such as La Morena brand
- For the hush puppies
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 scallions, white and light-green parts, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- Leaves from 18 stems cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (may substitute frozen and defrosted corn)
- 1 cup lump or backfin crabmeat (about 6 ounces, packed), picked free of all shells and cartilage
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, Old Bay, lemon juice and chipotle in a mini food processor until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 2 days). The yield is 1 cup.
For the hush puppies: Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, sugar, celery seed, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and baking powder in a large bowl.
Combine the scallions, cilantro, corn and crabmeat in a separate bowl.
Use a flexible spatula to blend the buttermilk and eggs into the cornmeal mixture until thoroughly incorporated, then fold in the scallion-crab mixture to form a thick batter.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a triple thickness of paper towels and place it next to the stove.
Heat the oil in a heavy 5-quart pot (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. The oil should be at least 2 inches deep.
Make the hush puppies in 3 batches. Scoop heaping teaspoons (not a measuring spoon) to make walnut-size portions of batter. Drop each one into the hot oil (from a height of no more than about an inch above the surface) by using your finger to push the batter off the spoon. Do not try to make perfect spheres; the hush puppies will be lighter if they are not so dense. Fry for about 3 minutes, until the balls are deep golden brown, keeping them moving so they brown evenly on all sides; a Chinese wire skimmer is good to use. Transfer them to the lined baking sheet, and place the sheet in the oven to keep warm while you make the remaining batches.
Skim off and discard any fried bits in the oil between batches. Bring the oil temperature back to 350 degrees before frying the remaining hush puppies. Repeat the baking sheet process as needed.
Serve the hush puppies piping hot, with the sauce on the side.
From Real Entertaining columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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