Jalapeno Hush Puppies with Lime Cumin Dipping Sauce

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I love making these for appetizers especially if I've got the smoker going for a big bbq. They're very easy to make and the dipping sauce whips up in seconds. Only thing is you can't make them in advance; you need to fry them up fresh and serve them immediately. I'll usually invite people into the kitchen with me and offer them a beer or cocktail while I work my magic. Then we all snack as they come right out of the oil!

Jalapeno Cheddar Hush Puppies
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup scant all-purpose flour (about 3 heaping Tbsp)
1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
2 Tbsp scallions, finely sliced
1/3 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Whisk together the cornmeal mix, egg, milk, and flour until well combined. Then fold in the jalapeno and half of the scallions (reserving the other half to go into the dip). Set aside to thicken.
To make the dipping sauce, simply combine the sour cream, leftover scallions, garlic, cumin, and lime juice into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve.
While mixture thickens, heat your oil. Preheat your deep fryer if using. Conversely, take a medium-sized deep pot (a Dutch oven works great) and place enough oil so that it stand 3 inches thick (this is basically going to take one full bottle of peanut oil or 1/3 of a bottle of vegetable or canola oil). Heat on high until temperature reads 375 degrees on a candy thermometer or until hot.
Place the cornbread mixture into the hot oil by the teaspoon fulls -- simply take a normal dinner teaspoon and grab some of the mixture, then gently drop it into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot when frying; it's best to work in batches to ensure a high temperature for frying. Cook the hush puppies for about 4 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking process. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Finish frying up the batches and serve hot.
My Notes:
As I've mentioned ad nauseum before, the heat in the jalapeno lives in the seeds and ribs of the pepper. If you want it spicier then leave the ribs and seeds intact; if milder, then carefully remove the seeds and ribs and just use the body (i.e. "green part") of the pepper instead.
To toast cumin seeds, simply place the seeds in a shallow frying pan and heat on low heat until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Promptly remove and set aside. (if you leave them in the pan they will continue to cook and burn)
If you don't like scallions, you can certainly omit them from both the batter and the dip and just add another clove of garlic to the dip. Similarly, if you have lemons on hand and not limes, then go ahead and use the juice of half a lemon instead.

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