Hush puppies are the classic fish-fry favorite and really nothing but a spiced-up hoe-cake, dropped into grease instead of fried flat. The variations are endless. This is my tried-and-true old recipe with chopped onion, but you could add green onion, chopped jalapeņo, or corn, or whatever you happen to have in your kitchen or garden the minute you start to mix them. I like sweet Vidalia onion, but use whatever little onion you find rolling around in your pantry, along with any other color, texture, or combo (Brie? Garlic? Thai?) that strikes your fancy.
2 cups white cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Peanut oil for frying
1. Mix the ingredients (except the oil) in the order listed, then add enough cold water to make it hold together. Shape into rounds or oblongs about as big as a walnut.
2. Heat 2 inches oil over high heat till it bubbles around the edges. Drop in the hush puppies, five or six at a time, and fry for 1 minute on each side, till they're nice and crunchy and uniformly brown. Like fried chicken, the secret to success with hush puppies is not to overload the fryer but to give every little hush puppy room to sizzle and cook without having to touch any of his brethren.
3. When they're brown, take them out with a slotted metal spoon and drain on a brown paper bag.
Yield: Serves 5
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