Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I grew up close to the ocean. So close, that my next-door-neighbor was a lobsterman, and as a kid I used to scallop in Niantic River with my father. I could shuck a bushel like the best of 'em. We ate scallops and lobsters so often I used to complain, "Not scallops again!" What I wouldn't do right now for a plateful of succulent pan-fried Niantic River scallops. So please foodies, don't disregard these clam fritters because the recipe uses canned clams. The end product is authentic and delicious, trust me, I know seafood.
Ocean beach used to have vendors next to the boardwalk that sold clam fritters and crinkle cut French fries. They are no longer there; gone....along with Niantic River scallops. Gone, but not forgotten.
Thankfully, we can reincarnate them at home with this recipe, which I adapted from the cookbook "Summer," by Susan Branch.
The perfect clam fritter is crispy on the outside, soft and savory inside. These brought me back to the days at Ocean Beach when it cost 15 cents for admittance to the pool, only these are lighter, crispier and not as greasy. The recipe makes 16 fritters. A few people could share them with cocktails, or two for dinner.
2 (6.5 ounce) cans chopped clams
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 grinds pepper
2 tablespoons celery, minced
1 tablespoon scallion (white only) minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
vegetable oil for frying
2 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain clams, reserving 1/3 cup liquid. Turn clams onto a couple paper towels to drain well. Beat egg in a medium bowl and whisk in reserved clam juice. Add flour, baking powder, Tabasco, celery, scallion and parsley. Beat well, stir in clams. Heat 1/2" oil in a large frying pan to medium high.
Oil is ready if you toss a bread cube in and it bubbles and sputters. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter into hot oil. Not too much, they will puff up. Don't crowd the pan. When they are golden on bottom, turn with tongs to cook the other side. Drain on paper towels, dusting with salt. Keep warm in the oven until all are done. Serve with lemon wedges and tarter sauce, which is simply 1/3 cup mayonnaise mixed with 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish and a dash of lemon juice.