Having lived most of my life in New England, some days I get the hankering for clam cakes. Today is one of those days.
Backstory…when I was young, my family went to this beach that had a clam shack. It was a tiny lackluster hole-in-the-wall. We would walk in from the hot beach to an even hotter oven (that's how it appears in my memory's eyes).Customer relations seemed to be nonexistent and at times our orders were taken by a crusty older lady. Despite this, we were more than willing to subject ourselves to her for the love of those marvelously puffy, hot, crispy on the outside, soft and with a touch of the sea on the inside clam cakes.
The place was an institution that existed for many years. I now live many miles away, and the clam shack closed its doors a number of years ago. Eating clam cakes always brings me back to the lowly shack on the beach.
I admit, there are some really good store bought mixes in the market, but it is rewarding to recreate those clam cakes on my own. Here is my homage to the little clam shack. I hope I did it justice.
A technical note: I tested this clam cake recipe multiple times with varying combinations—with just flour, with flour and cornstarch, with egg and regular milk, with no egg, with no milk, etc. None had the light crispiness on the outside and tenderness on the inside I was looking for. Finally, I found success with the version below.
I start by combining the dry ingredients.
Blend in clam juice and clams to obtain thick pancake consistency batter.
Drain on paper towels.
Get ’em while they're hot!
Clam Shack Clam Cakes:
2 (6.5 oz.) cans chopped clam
1 cup flour
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
4 tsp. non fat dried milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 rounded tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 rounded tsp. sugar
Oil for frying
Preheat oil in a deep fryer or skillet to 360 degrees F.
Blend together dry ingredients. Drain clams, reserving liquid. Add 3/4 cup of clam juice to dry. Blend. Stir in clams. The batter should the consistency of thick pancake batter. Add more clam juice, one tablespoon at a time, if the batter is dry.
Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop batter into hot oil and cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway through. Do not crowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Makes about 12.