The lobster roll’s sleazy cousin.
Crunchy, salty, whole-bellied fried clams are New England’s guilty pleasure. There’s something irresistibly dirty about the mushy bellies inside the fried crunch of the outer batter. Taking a bite is like a first kiss; don’t think about the consequences.
The first obvious secret to success: the ingredients
This is not the hard-shelled clams’ affair. I’m talking about soft-shelled, shamelessly phallic drooping, clams.
You’ll see clam strips on shanty menus out there too, but eating clam strip abominations instead of whole bellies is like only being able to smell your food instead of tasting it. If you want the true New England fried clam, you need the right ingredients.
The other obvious secret: simplicity
The secret to the best batter is refusing complexity. People will think they can create the next best thing if they add a little something. Maybe a little Old Bay seasoning? Maybe a little kick?
DON’T DO IT.
This is not Kentucky fried chicken. This is a simple crunch you’re creating to adorn the subtlety of the soft-shelled clam.
- 1 cup corn flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 lbs soft-shelled clams, shucked
- Canola oil for frying
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer, dutch oven, or large pot. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour the buttermilk in another bowl. You’ll know when the oil is hot enough when a drop of the batter sizzles on contact. Submerge clams into the buttermilk, followed by the dry ingredients, and drop into the oil. Try not to put too many clams in the oil at a time; it can be overwhelming to have too much going on in there. After the clams are golden, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels. Serve immediately.
(A perforated spoon will work just fine, but I was excited to use this guy)