These deep-fried cornmeal hush puppies are crispy and perfect when cooking fried fish. Chopped onions are added for extra flavor to these hush puppies.
If you’re digging in to fried shrimp or catfish at a seafood restaurant, odds are you’ll also get those round golden brown fried nuggets called hush puppies. Traditionally made from thick cornmeal batter, they’re shaped into balls, fingers, or even long squiggly strands and dropped into a deep fryer. The perfect hush puppy is crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle. They’re iconic and delicious – and no one has any idea of their true origin. Which hasn’t stopped people coming up with some inventive and entertaining explanations.
Hush Up, Dogs!: Imagine a southern fisherman frying up his catch and his houn’ dawgs drooling and yapping away at the sight. To keep them quiet, the cook fried up strips of dough and tossed them to the “puppies” to hush them up.
It Was Back in the War: The story goes that confederate soldiers cooking their dinners around the campfire thought they heard the enemy coming. So, they threw their barking dogs some fried cornmeal and issued the soldierly command “hush puppies!”
Fried Salamanders: This bizarre legend has it that Cajuns in Southern Louisiana were fond of digging up mud puppies (salamanders) dipping them in a batter and deep frying them. However, dining on salamanders was considered low class, so the eaters kept hush about it.
Is Any of This True?
It has to be asked, was fried cornmeal batter actually ever thrown to noisy dogs to hush them up? What is a fact is that southerners were munching on tasty balls of fried cornmeal batter decades before they were called hush puppies. It seems that hush puppies might have originated with red horse bread. Red horse was a common species of fish served at fish fries.
Red Horse Bread
Red horse bread was part of the repertoire of a famous cook named Romeo Govan who ran a club house where people came during fishing season. The bread was made by mixing cornmeal with egg, salt, and water. Gobs of this mixture were then dropped into the hot lard in which the fish had been fried. One reporter wrote:
“This was a new bread to the writer, and so delicious, that I beg lovers of the finny tribe to try some.”
It must be noted that this history still doesn’t explain the change of name from red horse bread to hush puppy so you may prefer to entertain your children with the other stories.
Try these copykat hush puppy variations.
- 2 cups corn meal
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 9 tablespoon chopped onion fine
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
- Mix these ingredients together. Drop from spoon into deep hot fat. Brown on both sides.