Fried Clam Sandwiches
I just love fried clams. Let me back up here—I actually love anything fried, but you can’t always justify it from the mess and caloric point of view. Clams were made to be fried. Anybody who has been to Cape Cod or Ipswich, Massachusetts, or to one of the many little food shacks along the New England coast knows how special they are. The trouble is, when I asked my fishmonger about the availability of soft-shell clams (the usual suspect for this dish), he said they were not so easy to find and really quite expensive if you got them already shucked. I decided to go with littlenecks instead and, yes, littlenecks are a little chewy but the flavor is right there. Serve with Oven Fries and Cole Slaw.
Total time: 45 minutes
Two main types of clams are found in the Northeast—quahogs (pronounced ko-hogs) and soft shells. Quahogs are classified by size. Littlenecks are 1½ to 1¼ inches across and you get about 7 to 10 per pound. They are tender and have a sweet taste. Cherrystones are 2¼ to 3 inches across and come 5 to 7 a pound. They are chewier than the littlenecks. The largest clams are simply called quahogs or chowder clams and are chopped up and used for just that. Soft shells, also known as steamers, fryers, or long necks (after the black siphon that protrudes from their shells) are usually steamed or shucked and turned into fried clams. They really should be called “thin shells,” because their shells are thinner, not really softer, than other clam shells.
Preparation Time35 min
Preparation Time - Text35 minutes
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturechewy, tangy
Type of Dishsandwich
Make the Beer Batter, strain it, and let it rest while you prepare the Quick Herb Sauce. Combine the seasoned flour as directed in the Beer Batter recipe. Preheat the oven to 225°F.
Heat a griddle or cast-iron frying pan over high heat until hot; reduce the heat to medium-high. Brush the outsides of the rolls with melted butter and toast on the griddle, turning on all sides until golden, 4 to 6 minutes total. Keep the rolls warm in the oven while you fry the clams.
Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan to 375°F. Drain the clams and pat dry. Working with about one-fourth of the clams at a time, dip them in the flour mixture, shake off the excess, then dip them in the batter to coat them and let the excess drip off. Add the clams to the oil and deep fry until they are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining clams.
Spoon a little on the toasted rolls. Divide the clams among the rolls. Top each with some lettuce and serve with a lemon wedge.
2005 Sarah Moulton