Clamtastic Clam Roll!

Last week I posted a recipe for a New England lobster roll, which garnered a pretty enthusiastic response (thanks, peeps!) and Regina and I had a few of these New England-style hot dog buns left over. Ya know, the split-top variety. Anyway, you’ll have to order them online, since I’ve never found them commercially available anywhere but the northeast. You can order through this link:

But it got us to thinking about another regional sandwich that uses the same bread – the delightful fried clam roll. It’s another of those New England specialties that we both love. What’s not to love about crispy fried clams crammed into a toasted, buttery bun with a generous slather of tartar sauce? If we were on the shore in those parts you’d find fried Ipswich or Quahog clams stuffed in the roll, but here on the West Coast (and most of the country) your clam selection is more limited. Here we get Manilas and Littlenecks, usually small.

You can use any clam for this recipe, just make sure they are as fresh as you can find them and well-washed of grit. I hope you try this recipe out, it’s a winner. Drink a crisp, cold beer with this sandwich, relax, and pretend for a few minutes that you’re on the beach, inhaling not only a delightful clam roll, but the sweet, briny breezes of the Atlantic ocean.

Crispy fried clams on a toasted bun? You betcha!

You will need:

Littleneck clams, about four pounds
whole milk
clam breader, recipe follows
split-top hotdog buns
softened butter
tartar sauce, recipe follows
a little shaved iceberg lettuce
lemon wedges

Do This:

Wash your clams well under cold running water, scrubbing with a stiff brush or dish sponge with an abrasive side (I keep a sponge dedicated to this purpose.). You want to make sure the clams are free from grit inside and out. One tip is to place the clams in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Run cold tap water down the inside of the bowl or over the back of a metal spoon and fill up the bowl to cover the clams with water. I’ve read that the water running over the metal creates a tiny electrostatic charge that tickles the clams and compels them to expel any sand inside them. I’m not sure if this 100% true, but it does seem to work. I wash the clams three times in this fashion, making sure to lift the clams out by hand, placing them temporarily into another bowl, and rinsing out the grit in the bowl between each clam-wash.

Wash those clams very well!

Put clams into a large pot with a tight fitting lid. In a tea kettle boil three or four cups of water. Pour boiling water over cleaned clams to completely submerge and cover the pot with the lid. After three or four minutes, check the clams and individually remove any clams that have opened. I like to plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. If any clams haven’t opened add another cup or two of water, cover again, and see if that opens any more. Any clams that haven’t opened at this point are probably dead and should be discarded.

The boiling water opens the clams just enough to pry open with a knife.

Scrap as much clam meat from the shell as you can. Don’t cut yourself!

Now, with a clam or oyster knife pry open the clams and remove as much meat as you from both sides of the shell. Try to keep the clam meat in one piece, if possible. Put all shucked clams into a container with whole milk. The lactic acid in the milk helps to tenderize the clam and will also assist in sticking the breading flour to the clam meat. I like to soak my shucked clams overnight, but a bare minimum of 30 minutes is fine.

Make the clam breader according to the recipe below.  And then make the tartar sauce.

Heat a counter-top fryer (or big pot of oil, your choice) to 365 degrees F. Pull clams from the milk and shake off excess. Dredge milky clams in the breader and toss thoroughly to coat with flour. I like to get my hands in there and really press the flour into the clams, getting them very well crusted.

Fry the clams in small batches; you don’t want to overload the fryer as it’ll cause the temperature to drop precipitously and you could end up with a nasty, gummy, clammy mess (I’ve done it, it sucks!). Drain them on a small sheet pan lined with wire rack. Or a strainer. That’ll work too.

Now butter the sides of the split-tip buns and brown in a hot skillet on both sides. Stuff browned rolls with clams, a little lettuce, and a drizzle of tartar sauce. If you want, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Maybe serve with some fries.

A warm clam roll makes a great lunch! Enjoy.

Excellent clam roll with fries!

Clam Breader

  • 1 cup semolina flour (corn flour is a good substitute)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk it all together!

Simple Tartar Sauce:
makes a lot extra!

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • juice of half a lemon
  • pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, some cracked black pepper
  • a little bit of minced parsley, dill, and/or chives

This sandwich is clamtastic!

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