Fried Clams

Fried Clams
Fried Clams Header

Delicious Golden Fried Clams to compliment any Seafood Platter or served with Fries & Sauces as a main course or Clam Platter. These Clams are soaked in a marinade before being breaded in either JFC Breading or a Seasoned Flour and deep fried until golden crispy and are they ever good. Plus they’re a good source of Iron, B12 and Selenium.

Clams

Use Fresh Whole Clams store-bought or Frozen Clams. You can also go digging for them yourselves making a day out of it at low tide.

Typical ones you see in Seafood Restaurants use Steamer Clams or Ipswich. I tried to locate these but couldn’t find any, I did come across some Manila Clams though and apparently these are used out west quite a bit.

Whole Belly Clams

Whole Belly Clams is the use of the entire Clam. Including the belly offers up a burst of sweet oceanic flavors that is desired by most when eating Clams.

Clam Strips

Clam Strips are Clams with the Belly removed, leaving behind only a strip of Clam. These will taste much milder and lighter in flavor.

Live Clams

There are quite a variety of Clams and all of them can be battered and deep fried. For real Clams you got to get your hands on some whole fresh Clams whether you buy them or go digging for them. Buying the Live Clams can be expensive and for this reason I usually just go with Frozen Clams although the tradeoff is they are much smaller.

Manila Clams
Manila Clams

Digging for Clams

Digging for Clams is by far the best way to source your Clams and it’s fun making a day out of it. Going at low tide with a shovel and bucket. Fill the Bucket up with Sea Water and place the Clams in as you get them.

Once you get the Clams home, you will want to leave them in the sink filled with sea water overnight. This allows for the Clams to clean themselves out getting rid of any bits of sand that would otherwise cause a gritty Clam, which is what you don’t want. Then they are ready to be prepared.

Preparing Live Clams

Most people shuck the clams, I never did this. To me it’s just extra work, where as you can just steam them and go. However I haven’t tested whether it makes a difference or not. Up to you whether you Shuck or Steam prior to Deep Frying. I do know that the Clams you buy in the stores that are frozen have been previously cooked before they were frozen.

In any event I grew up steaming freshly dug Clams and that’s the method I always do to prepare Live Clams for Deep Frying.

How to Steam Clams

Place water in a pot, about 1-2 inches with Clams and cover. Bring to a boil on max Heat and once steaming reduce the heat to medium. It will only take about 3-5 minutes for all of the clams to open up. Remove them and allow to cool. Discard any clams that haven’t opened up. Optionally place the Clams in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process and remove them from the shells.

Times may vary based on size and how much you placed into the pot. In general when the Clams have opened up they are cooked.

Once cooled, place into the marinade in preparation of Breading and deep frying. If you have a lot of them, use the amount you want for deep frying and freeze the rest to marinate and deep fry later.

Steamed Manila Clams

Steamed Manila Clams

Frozen Clams

It’s extremely difficult to find the larger Clams they offer at restaurants and so I often just use the smaller Frozen Clams. They do the job whenever the craving for Clams comes around. However, for a true experience you really do want Whole Belly Clams either store-bought or dug for yourself.

Frozen Clams

Frozen Clams

Weigh out up to 1 lb. of Frozen Clams and place them into a large bowl filled with water to defrost them, about 20 minutes. Strain them out and add to the Marinade.

Clam Marinade

No matter how you source the Clams, what type they are or how you prepared them, the Clam Marinade or Seafood Marinade is going to add some flavor to those Clams. It’s the same one used for Butterfly Shrimp and creates a beautiful taste in the Clams.

They don’t marinate all that long either. Just place the thawed or freshly steamed and cooled Clams into the marinade while the deep fryer is heating up and maintaining its heat, about 20 minutes or so.

Seafood Marinade

Seafood Marinade

  • 1/2 C JAH Poly Flour
  • 1/2 C Cornstarch & Water
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbl White Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Hondashi
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt, MSG & Sugar

Poly Flour

The Poly Flour will need to be made up first. Combine all the ingredients for the Poly Flour into a Food Processor or Dough Mixer fitted with a paddle and blend until mixed thoroughly well. Use 1/2 C for the Seafood Marinade and store the rest away in a container to use for other recipes.

Poly Flour

Poly Flour

  • 3 C Flour
  • 1/2 CLard
  • 2 Tbl Baking Powder & Sugar
  • 1 Tbl Kosher Salt

Hondashi

Hondashi is something I use whenever dealing with Seafood quite a bit. It just adds so much in terms of Umami.

Hondashi

Hondashi

Clam Breading

The Breading has evolved for me through out the years to how I bread them now and by far is the best to date. I originally just went through the standard breading station with Eggs, Flour and Bread crumbs. Then later a marinade with Seasoned Flour and now the Seafood marinade and JFC Breading or the Standard Seasoned Flour.

JFC Breading

JFC ~ Frickin Good Chicken Breading for JFC Fried Clams are just unreal. Really nice flavoring from the Herbs & Spices that are in it. Definitely my go to breading for this dish. Just empty out about 2 Cups of JFC Breading for about 1 pound of Clams into a bowl and you’re ready to bread the Clams.

JFC Clams

JFC Clams

Seasoned Flour Breading

The Seasoned Flour with the standard seasoning Is really good too. Although you will have to double the recipe to get 2 cups worth. Which below has already been done.

The Salt you may want to adjust since the marinade also contains Salt. The 1 Tbl of Sea Salt is in the upper range for 1 cup of Seasoned Flour for this dish. It may do just fine depending on your taste. But this can also be adjusted to anywhere between 1-2 tsp per 1 cup for a less salty breading. You can also Salt the Clams after they come out of the Deep Fryer too.

Another option for seasoning is to replace the standard seasoning in the Seasoned Flour with Old Bay Seasoning or Creole Seasoning. About 1 Tbl is pretty good, more or less.

Seasoned Flour

Seasoned Flour

  • 2/3 C each of All Purpose Flour, Barley Flour & Corn Flour
  • 2 Tbl Sea Salt or a bit less
  • 1/2 tsp Black & White Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of Cayenne Pepper (more or less)
Fried Clams in Seasoned Flour

Seasoned Flour Fried Clams

How to Bread Clams

Ensure you have the marinade already made up and the breading ready to go. Weigh out up to 1 lb. of Clams and place the Clams into some water to defrost them for about 20 minutes and then strain.

Marinating Clams

Marinate

Place the Clams into the Marinade while the Deep Fryer is being heated up to 350 F – 375 F. About 20 minutes.

Breaded Clams in Seasoned Flour

Breading Clams

Pick up a handful of Clams and with the other hand keep shaking the bowl as you add the Clams one at a time to the breading. This will coat the Clams as they are added.

Once all the Clams are added give it a good mix to ensure all the Clams are thoroughly breaded.

Scooping the Clams out of the Breading

Scoop & Shake

Use a Spider or Basket to scoop out the Clams and shake to get rid of excess breading. Then they are ready to Deep Fry.

How long to deep fry Clams

My general rule for Deep Frying is to deep fry until all steam is evaporated. When I test this further, it always seems to be correct no matter what you are deep frying. I don’t believe it is any different with Clams.

But this would seem contrary. Everyone states to Deep Fry Clams for 30 seconds to 1 minute and in some cases 2 – 3 minutes. I do know over cooking the Clams will result in rubbery Clams which is definitely undesirable. But 30 seconds seems way to short of a time.

Even at 1 – 2 minutes seems to short. So I put it to the test myself and dropped a whole pound of Clams in and pull them out at 30 seconds, 1 minute, 1 1/2 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 & 5 minute intervals.

Testing how long to deep fry clams

First the 30 seconds and 1 minute mark resulted in mushy Clams with no real crispness of the breading, I definitely didn’t like these at all.

At 2 minutes they were okay. But still kind of mushy and no real crispness to the breading.

Three minutes is where there was a significant difference. The breading did crisp up much more and there was more flavor and the Clams weren’t as mushy. It turns out that all the steam evaporated at about this time. So any further deep frying was to crisp up the breading.

Both 4 – 5 minutes more so the 5 minutes was the best in terms of Flavor, Texture and Crispness of the Breading. So for me, Deep Frying Clams for 5 minutes turns out the best Clams. There may be other variables at play here or something I am missing since so many people deep fry for about 1 minute.

You could also point out that different types and size of Clams and the amount of Clams would affect cook times and you’re most likely right. I would still stick with Deep Frying until there is no more steam left though. Since this always ensures the food item being deep fried is cooked and there is no more water that may escape through steaming and softening the breading. Cooked inside & Crispy, exactly what you want when Deep Frying.

Test it out yourself to see. My test was done with Frozen Clams which are much smaller. However the technique is the same. Deep Fry the Clams for 1 1/2 minutes vs deep frying until all the steam is gone or for a minute or so after all the steam has evaporated.

How to Deep Fry Clams

Heat the Deep Fryer up to 350 F – 375 F at the same time you marinade the Clams. Once the Deep Fryer is properly heated and holding its heat with the Clams ready, place them into the Fryer Basket. Lower the Basket and leave for about 30 seconds, then give it a shake to loosen the Clams up. Deep Fry the Clams for about 3-5 minutes.

Lift the Basket up and strain out any excess grease. Then transfer the Clams to a plate to serve.

While the Oil temperature will hit 350 F – 375 F initially. After placing the Clams in the Oil the temperature will drop significantly. With a very short frying time you want the heat to initially be high.

Double Fried Clams

Another technique that I have seen but never tested, was to initially deep fry the Clams for 15-30 seconds. Just enough to let the breading set. Lift the basket out and wait until the Oil comes back to temp before placing the Clams back in for about 30 sec – 1 min.

The Clams are still cooking while they rest just not at a high heat, instead from the residual heat. The final fry is to finish cooking and crisp up the batter. In this case the Clams are cooked for a total time of about 1 minute – 1 1/2 minutes. But technically they are still cooked for a longer time. Since the waiting time does count towards cooking.

Fries

If serving these with a side of fries, then deep fry the fries first since these take the longest to cook.

Deep Fry until most of the steam is gone and then lift the basket up to allow the heat to come back.

Deep Fry again until all steam is gone. Remove and set aside until the Clams are deep fried and then you can place the fries back in a third time for about 30 seconds to heat through and give a final crisp to the fries.

Empty into a bowl and season with Salt & Pepper, Old Bay or Creole Seasoning.

Clam Platter

Serve the Clams with a side of Fries & Coleslaw and some Cocktail Sauce and/or Tartar Sauce for a Delicious Clam Platter.

Seafood Platter

Deep Fry some Fish & Chips or some JFC Fish while the Clams are marinating. Maybe with a side of Fried Scallops and/or Butterfly Shrimp too. Serve up with a side of Coleslaw and some Cocktail Sauce and/or Tartar Sauce for a Delicious Seafood Platter.

Fried Clams Pin

Fried Clams

Marinated Clams Breaded with either JFC ~ Frickin Good Chicken Breading or a Seasoned Flour. Deep Fried at 350 F – 375 F for about 5 minutes or until Golden Crispy.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Marinate Time20 minutes
Servings: 4 portions

Equipment

  • 1 Deep Fryer
  • 3 Bowls for the Marinade, Breading, and thawing the clams
  • 1 Whisk
  • 1 Spider

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1/2 C Poly Flour & Cornstarch - each
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbl White Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Hondashi
  • 1/2 tsp MSG, Sea Salt & Sugar - each
  • 1/2 C Cold Water

Instructions

  • Place the Clams in a bowl of water to defrost which will take about 20 minutes.
  • Combine the Poly Flour & Cornstarch with the Hondashi, MSG, Salt & Sugar and mix well with a whisk. Then add in the Egg, Vinegar & Water and whisk until fully combined and smooth.
    Strain out and add the Clams to the marinade and set aside while the deep fryer is heated to 350 F – 375 F. About another 20 minutes.
  • Take the Clams out by the handful and drop them into the bowl with the breading a few at a time while shaking the bowl to ensure each Clam gets fully coated in the breading. Toss again to ensure each Clam is breaded well.
  • Scoop all of the Clams out with a Spider and shake to get rid of any excess breading leaving only the Clams.
  • Drop them into the Basket and Deep Fry the Clams for about 30 seconds before shaking the basket to loosen the Clams up. Continue deep frying for a total cook time of about 3-5 minutes.
    Lift the Basket up and shake to get rid of any excess grease and plate.

Notes

If using Seasoned Flour, use the Standard Seasoning or switch it out with Old Bay or Creole Seasoning. 
If serving this with Fries, then leave the Clams in the marinade and cook up the Fries first since these take the longest to cook. Then fry the Clams and plate and finally fry up the Fries one last time for about 30 seconds to heat through and crisp up. The Fries can be seasoned with Creole or Old Bay as well. 
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Canadian, Maritimer
Keywords: Deep Fried Clams, Fried Clams, JFC Fried Clams
Author: JAH
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