Fried Clam HEAVEN: Essex Seafood

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by suzanne, Aug 20, 2002.

  1. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Part of our vacation was spent on Cape Ann in Massachusetts (aka The North Shore). We stayed in Gloucester (home of Gorton's frozen fish) but drove around a lot to eat. One place we went to was so good we ate there twice! It is Essex Seafood, on Route 133 in Essex, MA. Normally at home we hardly ever eat fried stuff, but hey, how could I not try it there? The first time we went, I figured I'd go all out and ordered the Seafood Plate: fried clams, shrimp, scallops, and fish, with french fries AND onion rings. It would have been enough for a family of 4! Paul was being virtuous: he ordered a steamed lobster and corn on the cob. We shared a small (only about 16 oz!) clam chowder. Everything was so fresh and sweet, and the frying was perfect -- not even the onion rings were greasy! The chowder was loaded with pieces of clam and potato, and had just the right balance of milk and cream to stock, neither too thick and gloppy nor too thin. The clams were huge; the shrimp didn't taste the least bit of iodine; the scallops were the most tender and sweetest; even plain old fish was delicate and flavorful. Paul's lobster was not as sweet as some we've had, but it tasted like LOBSTER. And the corn was really fresh, too. If anybody else knows Stroud's fried chicken in Kansas City -- this is the seafood equivalent: simply the best fried version I've ever had.

    We went back for lunch the day we left. This time I only had fried scallops with french fries, and Paul had a lobster roll (lobster meat mixed with a tiny amount of mayonnaise, stuffed into a hot-dog bun) and cole slaw. He must have had the equivalent of a whole lobster! We both had more of that chowder.

    (Another time we also had a fried clam roll and a lobster roll at Woodman's of Essex, which claims to have invented the fried clam -- they were both quite good, but nowhere as good as at Essex Seafood.)
     
  2. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Oh, Suzanne! My mouth is watering. Sounds something like several of the meals I enjoyed in Maine two summers ago. I adore fried clams, but we can't get any really good ones here. (Onion rings yes...) Thanks for the vicarious delight.
     
  3. isa

    isa

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    Fried clams taste better when you eat them by the sea.
     
  4. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Isa, you are 100% totally absolutely correct. But believe me, if I could get anything that good in the middle of the prairie, I'd fly there in a flash! That's why I compared the place to Stroud's "we choke our own chickens" fried chicken -- any food is best at the source, because it's the freshest and therefore the most flavorful. That raises a whole different discussion of the geographic generalization of foods (like Taco Bell in the far north) -- but we'll leave that for another time. Anyway, I'm just glad that I got to taste such perfect fried clams! And with no gastrointestinal repercussions. Now THAT"S good frying!!!! ;) :D
     
  5. marmalady

    marmalady

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    Ahhh, Suzanne, you just took me on a trip down memory lane! When I lived in Boston, we used to hitch-hike up to Gloucester (in the days of the VW bus!;) ), and eat at a little place right on the water at the pier; 2 pound lobster dinner, with baked potato, chowdaa, salad of iceberg with blue cheese, and pie or cobbler - for $5!!!!!! Those WERE the days!
     
  6. isa

    isa

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    There is an article on clams in the New York Times.

    The Deep-Fried Truth About Ipswich Clams

    They also give this fried clams recipe for those who might be in the mood.

    Ipswich-Style Fried Clams
    ime: 20 to 30 minutes


    1 pound shucked littleneck clams
    1 can evaporated milk
    1 cup finely ground cornmeal or masa harina
    1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup pastry or cake flour
    1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    1 teaspoon ground red chili pepper, or to taste
    1 pound lard or 2 cups canola or other vegetable oil
    1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil.

    1. Drain clams in a colander. In a large bowl, combine them with milk, and set aside.

    2. In another large bowl, combine cornmeal and flours with salt and red pepper. Mix well with fingers.

    3. In a large wok or deep frying pan, heat lard and oil over medium heat to a frying temperature of 360 to 375 degrees.

    4. Take a handful of clams and hold over bowl to let excess liquid drip off. Toss clams in flour mixture, turning to coat thoroughly. One by one, drop them into hot fat, adjusting heat to keep temperature fairly constant. Let clams fry for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels placed on a rack. Repeat with remaining clams, and serve immediately.

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
     
  7. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Yes, I got hysterical when I saw that article. At least I got to eat at a couple of the places they mentioned.

    FWIW, right now there's a big discussion of fried clams (and steamers and lobster rolls and ice cream) on the Boston board at Chowhound. If that don't make you hungry, ain't nothin' will!