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"Would you like fries or hushpuppies?" That was the question I'd ask every customer, all night long, during my stint at a popular seafood restaurant years ago. Most went for the fries, which was a mistake if you ask me. You could get french fries anywhere—hushpuppies were so much more interesting. Hushpuppies (not the brand of shoe) are simply fried nuggets of thick, lightly sweet cornmeal batter. The history of the hushpuppy is unconfirmed, but it's thought that the name evolved from folks settling down their pet dogs by tossing them these cornmeal fritters and saying "hush puppy". Until I dig deeper, I'm happy with that.
Whatever their origin, hushpuppies are delicious, super easy, and make a fun appetizer or side dish. During the fry, the exterior develops a wonderful crunchy texture from the cornmeal, while the inside stays moist. Hushpuppies are versatile. Make 'em plain and simple, or throw in all sorts of add-ins such as onion, spices, jalapeno, bacon bits, shrimp, or cheese.
The hushpuppies here celebrate a modest version, with the flavors that I remember from my hushpuppy slingin' days: chopped onion, cayenne, and tangy hot sauce. Roll the batter into corn dog shapes, spoon drop it into the hot oil, or do as I did and roll 'em into balls for that irresistible pop in your mouth effect. Dip 'em in the tangy-sweet remoulade and you'll be sweetly hushed yourself.