A New England staple battered and fried

By Jim Bailey

Clams have been a New England staple for as long as the natives learned how to break them open and eat them. We have clam shell heaps, along with oyster shell heaps, dotting our shoreline and dating back thousands of years.

Many people associate seafood and shellfish with summertime dining, but the truth is, us Yankees have been eating oceans bounties all year long all our lives.

Crispy fried clam dinners are sold in abundance during the summer months because of the tourism, but enter any restaurant in New England and you will find us enjoying our seafood all year round.

Batter fried clams aren’t as crispy as crumb fried but just as enjoyable. Fluffy on the inside and nice and browned on the outside, it won’t cost you nearly as much because the batter puffs up, giving you more for your money and a filling New England dinner.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
5 ounces whole belly clams
1 quart oil, for frying
Yankee Coleslaw, recipe below
‘Fresh’ Tartar Sauce, recipe below

Bring oil to 350-degrees F in a deep, stout pot over medium heat, or use a deep fryer and heat oil according to manufacturers instructions.

Drain clams well. Mix batter in a large bowl. Add the clams and, with your fingers only, stir gently until all clams are well coated.

Using a fork, lift one clam out at a time, let drain for a second or two and ease into the hot oil. Hold the clam halfway in the oil for 2 seconds before releasing it into the oil. You may need another fork to do so.

If you aren’t used to frying battered clams, drop only 3 clams at a time to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until dark brown, turning over in the oil if necessary.

Lift out of oil and let drain on a paper towel lined platter. Repeat the process with the remainder of the clams.

Serve with:

Yankee Coleslaw

2 cups coleslaw mix with carrots
1/2 peeled apple, grated
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish, optional

Place the coleslaw mix and grated apple in a large bowl and mix well; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix remainder of ingredients and pour over slaw mixture. Toss to combine and serve cold.

Fresh Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced cucumber
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix well in a bowl.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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