Hush puppies are a Southern food staple, especially when fried fish is around. They're cheap, easy to make, and go with almost everything. Hush puppies can be easily tailored to just about anyone's personal preference, being mild or spicy, plain or with extras like peppers and green onion added. Recipes for hush puppies vary a good deal, but the basics are corn meal, eggs, salt & spices, and milk.
Anyone who likes spicy food will certainly enjoy trying this recipe for habañero hush puppies. Please note that this recipe is just a guide; feel free to experiment with the ingredients once you try it this way. Adjust the quantity of peppers to your personal preference. This recipe uses 6 roasted habañeros (see note at end of article). These hush puppies will be very spicy. For less intense heat, use fewer peppers and/or remove the seeds.
Habañero hush puppies
1 1/2 cups corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup club soda
6 roasted habañero peppers, chopped, with seeds left in*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 green onion, chopped
Heat oil in deep fryer or in a pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat until at least 350 degrees F. Combine corn meal and flour in a medium bowl; add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in peppers, salt, and green onion; mix just until combined. Carefully drop batter by the spoonful into hot oil. Cook one and taste it as a test before cooking the entire batch. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Do not overload fryer/pot - cook in small batches. The hush puppies will cook fairly quickly and will float on the surface of the oil when done.
*The peppers in this recipe were roasted on a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes. The skin was left on and the seeds were left intact.
Fresh habañero peppers can be found fairly easily throughout the general Memphis area. Most major grocery store chains, including Kroger, Schnuck's, and The Fresh Market, routinely have the peppers available. Check your favorite local store for current availability. As of the publication date of this article, habañero peppers were available at the Germantown Fresh Market for $7.99 a pound and at a Cordova Kroger for $4.99 a pound (10 peppers will cost less than $1 at this rate).
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