I've got some Southern blood. My great-grandmother came from North Carolina. I blame that for my hankering for fried foods and enormous cakes and having to feed anyone and everyone that shows up at my house.
The quintessential Southern food has got to be hush puppies. Deep-fried balls of cornbread goodness. Mm-hm. I ate mine with honey.
Bonus! This recipe is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. It was definitely a winner.
A word about corn masa versus corn meal. Corn masa is sold in bags and is a finely ground corn flour. Corn meal is the yellow crunchy stuff that's been around for ages. Masa is usually used for making corn tortillas or tamales. Corn meal is the more traditional ingredient for cornbreads and traditional hush puppies. I used masa because 1) I had it in my pantry, and 2) I wanted a finer texture. Please don't substitute one for the other. They cook differently and absorb different amounts of liquid. I need to experiment to find a good corn meal version of hush puppies.
Hush Puppies (no pics because we ate them too fast!)
2 c. corn masa flour (see note above)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. lemon pepper seasoning
2 t. baking powder
3 T. sugar
1/4 c. freeze-dried onion bits
1 T. dried parsley
1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk (you can use the drinking stuff or the lite canned stuff)
oil for deep frying
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add eggs and coconut milk (you can use other kinds of milk or milk substitutes, but I like coconut because it adds creaminess). Stir until combined. It should be a thick batter, slightly sticky but not quite thick enough to roll out like biscuit dough. If it's too dry, stir in more coconut milk. If it's too wet, let it sit for 10 minutes to give the flour a chance to soak up the extra liquid. If it's still too wet, stir in a couple tablespoons of the corn masa.
Heat the oil to about 350° in a nice deep saucepan. You want it hot and shimmery, about where you'd fry doughnuts.
Drop one spoonful of batter into the oil to test the temperature. I used a smallish cookie scoop. The oil should start bubbling. It should take about 3-4 minutes for the hush puppy to brown nicely. Pull it out of the oil and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Break it open to check for doneness. Adjust your oil as needed. If it's still doughy inside but the outside is getting too brown, the oil is too hot. If it takes forever to cook and is like eating a greasy sponge, the oil is too cold. You can also change up the size. If they are cooking much too fast on the outside but still raw in the middle, you can try using a slightly smaller scoop. A good rounded tablespoon size seemed to be about right for my batch.
Scoop into the oil in batches of 4-8, depending on the size of your pot. Cook until done. Repeat until you run out of batter.
Serve warm with butter, honey, hot sauce, or fried catfish nuggets. Or just eat the little balls of deliciousness.
Makes around 3 dozen or so, depending on how big you scoop them.