Q: On the hunt for sweet hush puppies (funnel cake texture; Calabash-style) served with honey butter. Any good ones in Charleston? I hate the oniony, peppery, big over-fried bombs that are served at most spots.
A: And here I thought all I had to show for reading so many Encyclopedia Brown books as a kid was a reading contest certificate from the public library! The clue to your mystery is hidden in plain sight: Calabash-style. To track down the puppies of your dreams, all I had to do was find fried fish in the vicinity of sweaty vacation-goers.
I started at Hyman’s Seafood, which is so proud of its hush puppies that one of its front windows is lined with boxes of the mix used to make them. The ingredient list on the box is the only proof that there’s any cornmeal in the hush puppy batter (although the list also reveals there isn’t quite as much meal as bleached wheat flour). When prepared by the restaurant, the hush puppies quiver with sugar: After one investigative bite, I had to reexamine my specimen to see whether it had been glazed like a doughnut hole.
Hyman’s serves its hush puppies with a foil-wrapped pat of whipped sweet cream butter, which should have been a tip-off that I’d gone to the wrong place. I knew I was hard on the heels of your perfect pup when Charleston Crab House provided a ramekin of free-form butter, tawny from added honey.
The hush puppies at Charleston Crab House are each about the size of a competitive marble, with a cakey interior surrounded by a sugary shell. My guess is they’re fried a few seconds longer than you’d like, but I bet the kitchen would entertain a medium-rare request. While I’m not sure I’m ready to shift allegiances from the hush puppies at Rodney Scott’s BBQ, Charleston Crab House’s version of the Southern icon sure does taste like summer. Case closed.