One of my favourite sandwiches ever is a good fried clam po’ boy. I was introduced to this delight while visiting Old Orchard Beach (alas, not New Orleans, but I’ll get there one day) as a youngin – a place that left a go-back-to stamp on me because the whole “town” is either beach or amusement park, you can rent cottages right on the ocean where you can chase sandpipers chasing wee, translucent water bugs making seriously cool tracks in the sand forever, and cheap, delicious seafood (I remember getting a lobster and full access to the buffet for under $20, but this was late 80s/early 90s, so…). It’s like this surreal, bizarro mash-up of the excessively tacky, the richly organic, and the sublimely decadent. Go there. Do that.
Unfortunately, I cannot help you with your trip to Old Orchard Beach, but I can give you a recipe for a mean, fried clam po’ boy.
This recipe serves two (because I’m trying to not cook for armies anymore), but they’re BIG sandwiches. You could easily get three normal-sized sandwiches or several sliders out of this recipe. You could also serve the clams on their own with tartar sauce for dipping.
Note: This recipe goes together in about 20 minutes, but requires prep at least 2 hours in advance for thawing and marinating.
What you need:
- 1 cup of clam meat, drained and thawed, if necessary (I highly recommend the frozen variety over the canned, brined variety because the salt content in canned seafood is crazy-high and the texture of frozen is much nicer – you can always use fresh clams, of course, but that’s a lot more work and dosh)
- 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. onion or garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- oodles of finely ground pepper
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- enough oil for deep frying
- 1 baguette (or you could be a masochist like me and make your own buns for this – recipe here)
- tartar sauce
What you do:
- Thaw (if necessary) and drain your clam meat. You can also chop it up if you prefer strips to whole clams.
- In a bowl, combine the clam meat and sriracha sauce.
- Refrigerate and marinate for at least one hour.
- Heat your favourite deep-frying vessel with enough oil for deep-frying over high heat. I use my wok for this purpose always. Woks are great creatures. In the absence of a wok, a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed sauce pan will work. If you have a deep fryer, that will obviously work, too.
- In medium-sized bowl, mix the flour and spices together.
- Working in batches, dredge about a 1/4 cup of the clams at a time (you don’t want to overcrowd your dredge or your fryer or your clams will end up in big, clumpy, soggy mess) in the flour and spice mixture. I find that tossing them, then letting them sit in the dredge for a minute, then tossing them again gives them a good coating because that sriracha sauce is going to soak up some of the dredge.
- Deep-fry each batch of clams until golden brown (about three to four minutes) and place them on a paper towel-lined plate. Try not to overlap them, or they’ll get soggy. Note: If you’re doubling (or more) this recipe, you can hold the clams on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.
- As your clams are frying, prep your baguette. I like to cut the heels off and then cut the remainder in two, then cut those two baguettes sections in half, lengthwise. Tip: Toss the baguette heels into a paper bag to let dry for breadcrumb-makings.
- Slather tartar sauce on your baguette sections. You know, to taste.
- Toss some arugula (you can use any kind of leafy green you like, really, but there’s something about the nutty, bitterness of arugula that makes it a perfect complement to the spicy clams and creamy tartar sauce) on each sandwich.
- Fill those sandwiches with clams.
- Serve with a nice chopped salad.