Every summer my husband and I drive to the local fish fry restaurant for dinner. The Surfside Club is located directly on the Missouri River north of Omaha, and the fried catfish is solid. Each plate comes with a big pile of fries, a generous cup of coleslaw and piping hot hushpuppies, fresh from the air fryer – that’s enough to feed a family. After stuffing myself with fried fish and chips, I dip a hushpuppy in honey for that hopeful first bite. And each time, I’m disappointed.
Surfside hushpuppies are bland. The restaurant is built high up on the Nebraska side of the shore, and it’s become common for kids to throw those deep-fried dough balls into the water below, just to watch the carp smash the surface to inhale them. And even if I want to do the same, I refrain. I do the adult thing and keep trying to like them. I like their idea. The name “hushpuppy” promises so much.
So, in developing this recipe, I found something that fell somewhere between a hushpuppy and a fish cake. It has a lot more flavor and feels like a full meal with every bite. I use bluegill but any white fish will work in this recipe. I bet the smoked salt fish would be awesome too. I call them donuts because I don’t use cornmeal, which is the base for most hushpuppy recipes.
For the sauce, Kewpie is Japanese-style mayonnaise which is the mayonnaise that rules them all. While American mayonnaise is made with whole eggs, Kewpie is made with only yolks, which gives the condiment a super egg-like consistency and flavor, like custard. If you can’t find Kewpie, plain mayonnaise is fine.