Saturday, May 22, 2021

Something About Fried Clams

Shell-shocked.

I suppose I will post a question first. How well do you keep track of the dietary habits of others? Does knowing such things make the other person more relatable, or give you a sense of the time and place the person lived? Does knowing Anna Kavan scoured cities for the best Mexican food, or Percy Lamb had an olive fetish, or Alan Smithee rarely eats at all bestow something inside of you? On that note, does knowing John Bellairs liked fried make you feel like you know him better?

I wonder if any late-night stomachaches led to nightmares, in turn inspiring a spooky scene or two from one of his novels. Doubtful, I realize.

Fried clams are mentioned as early as 1840, but the modern deep-fried, breaded version is generally credited to Lawrence Henry "Chubby" Woodman from Essex, Massachusetts. He is said to have created the first batch on July 3, 1916, at his restaurant, Woodman's of Essex. Now, Essex is 40-plus miles away and I do not see Bellairs driving great distances to find fried claims. He noted his favorite restaurant was Friendly's on upper Main Street in Haverhill. Since Recipes.net features a "Copycat Friendly’s Fried Clam Strips Recipe", I might as well give this a shot.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 lbs clam strips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Start by heating the canola oil in a pot over moderate heat until it reaches 380 degrees F.
  2. While the oil is being heated, rinse and drain the clam strips in a colander.
  3. Stir the clam strips together with buttermilk in a large bowl.
  4. Drain the clam strips well in a colander. Let them set over a bowl for at least 5 minutes.
  5. In another bowl stir together the cornstarch, cornmeal, flour, curry powder, celery salt, cayenne, and salt.
  6. Dredge a handful of drained clams in the flour mixture then shake in a large sieve to remove excess flour.
  7. Transfer the clams one by one in a baking sheet and then shake them again to remove any excess flour mixture.
  8. Fry the coated clams until they're crisp and golden for about 1 ½ minutes. Then, transfer them onto some paper towels with a slotted spoon for draining. Afterward, sprinkle them with salt to taste.
  9. Serve with some potato fries and your desired dipping sauce, and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Always return the oil to 380 degrees F between batches to properly cook the strips.
  2. The perfect contrast to balance out the flavors of your clam strips is a sour, vinegar-like dip. Try it with the aforementioned tartar sauce or our Balsamic Vinegar BBQ Sauce.

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