For my last week in Massachusetts, I determined that I would knock off another clam recipe. I would eat them myself, dammit, if no one else wanted fried clams. I actually think Mrs. Curtiss would have liked them. Earlier this summer, she was reminiscing about having eaten fried clams at either Howard Johnson's or Friendly's. However, although we are buddies, I had already had her once to dinner, and I didn't feel like she would just want to drop over. So, clams solo.
The first issue with fried clams is opening the clam. It seems like last year or the year before Big Y had shucked clams. This year, it had chopped, shucked clams, but not whole clams. So, I attempted to shuck. You might want to take shucking lessons from your friendly fish purveyor, if you don't like nicks and scars on your hands. Clams are tight little mothers.
Clams have a very narrow slit near the place where the shell hinges. I attempted to stick a knife in the slit and pry. I was successful a couple of times, but mostly, the knife slid off and stuck me in my left hand, the one that was holding the clam. After I rinsed off the blood, I took another tack.
Clams open when heat is applied, so I put about an inch of water in a sauce pan and threw in the clams. They did generally open. A little. So then I had to pry around with the knife and cut through the hinge so I could really get in there and extract the clam.
Then there was the question of the batter. It calls for flour. I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free flour.
Then, there was the oil. Now, the recipe, with Hewlett's usual lack of detail does not specify how much oil. Fried clams, if you have never had them, are deep fried. They are supposed to be submerged in the oil and float around. So you need at least a quart. I had about a cup and a half, and didn't plan to buy any more since I was leaving and wanted to use stuff up and not have to transport it back to DC.
The effect was more like clam pancakes than fried clams. The dough flattened into little rounds and bubbled merrily in the fat, throwing up a perfect rain of spatters on my hands and my shirt. I tried covering my hands with an oven mitt but the mitt made it hard to maneuver the spatula.
Anyway, I produced 12 brown little clam pancakes, which I ate sitting on the sofa. Usually I set the table and sit down like a civilized person, but these got gobbled up before I got to the table.
1 egg separated
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
24 clams, shucked and drained of liquor (That's the clam gunk.)
fat or oil for deep frying
1. Beat the egg yolk with one-quarter cup of the milk. Stir in the butter, salt and four and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in remaining milk.
2. Beat the egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold into the batter. Dip each clam into the batter. Fry clams, a few at a time, in fat or oil heated to 375 degrees. Drain on paper towels. Makes three or four servings.