There are numerous claims on who invented and sold the first “Corny Dog“. Hot dogs on a stick, dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep-fried have numerous names as well: pogo, dagwood dog, wobo, pluto pup, mercury mutt.
I grew up enjoying a yearly fix of Fletcher’s Corny Dogs at the annual State Fair of Texasin Dallas. The Fletcher brothers claim to have introduced their dog as early as 1939. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the original should be a very proud pup.
Wherever you find a carnival, a state or county fair, you will surely find abundant, itinerant street food and some form of corn dogs have been a part of that culture for decades.
These days, with many chefs and cooks thinking outside the box, variations on the original recipes begin to appear. Inspiration for Corny Shrimp Pups came from a Neiman Marcus cookbook that I recently purchased at Tuesday Morning for a song.
Neiman Marcus has held a place in my heart all my life. Shopping at this upscale institution was a special occasion, and even though my family didn’t live on a Neiman’s budget, we would occasionally find a prize at a price we could afford.
Neiman’s was skillfully run in those days by Stanley Marcus, a descendant of the founders. Every October, they would put on what they called “Fortnight.” This was a splendid celebration of another country’s culture, food, art and products. This celebration spilled out into the community by involving the Dallas Symphony, The Dallas Museum of Art and other institutions. This was retail merchandising at its most brilliant.
Chef Helen Corbett would transform food in the Zodiac Room into French, Asian, Brazilian or whatever culture was being celebrated. She had a way of elevating ordinary, pedestrian food into something with style. For example, she made a black-eyed pea salad called “Texas Caviar.” It’s no more caviar than Rocky Mountain Oysters are seafood. It is, nonetheless, delicious, imaginative cocktail or buffet fare.
Corny Shrimp Pups
Inspired and adapted from a recipe in Neiman Marcus Taste
- 24 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 24 wooden skewers
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (120 ml.) buttermilk
- 1 cup (240 ml.) milk
- 1/4 cup (60 ml.) butter, melted
- 3/4 cup (180 ml.) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (240 ml.) fine-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup (240 ml.) dry pancake mix (Bisquick)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) chili powder (I like Gebhardt’s)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) baking powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Oil for deep frying
- All-purpose flour for dredging
- Peel and devein the shrimp then insert the skewer beginning at the tail end and stopping about 1 inch (2.54 cm.) from the other end. Keep cool until ready to coat and fry.
- Mix in a bowl the eggs, buttermilk, milk and butter.
- In another bowl, mix the 3/4 cup (180 ml.) flour, cornmeal, pancake mix, sugar, chili powder, salt, baking powder and cayenne.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until smooth. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or suitable, heavy saucepan to 350°F (176°C).
- Dredge the skewered shrimp first in the flour then in the batter.
- Working in small batches of 4 shrimp at a time, carefully lower then into the hot oil.
- Fry until deep golden brown.
- Remove to drain on paper towels.
Serve with Joe’s Mustard Sauce on the side
Joe’s Mustard Sauce
Adapted from a recipe in Eat at Joe’s: The Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant Cookbook
This is a wonderfully sophisticated sauce. You’ll think of many more ways to use it.
- 1 generous tablespoon (a generous 15 ml.) Colman’s dry mustard, or more to taste
- 1 cup (240 ml.) mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml.) Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) A-1 sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) light cream
- Salt to taste
- Whisk the mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until the mixture is well blended and creamy. If you like, add more mustard. Cover and chill the sauce until ready to serve.