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Clam ShackStyle Fried Clams Recipe Clam Recipes Fried Clams Recipes

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What are fried clams?

Fried clams are a beloved seafood dish that originated in the New England region of the United States. They consist of fresh clams, typically soft-shell or whole belly clams, that are coated in a seasoned batter and deep-fried until golden and crispy. The clams are often served with tartar sauce or lemon wedges for added flavor.

The dish is particularly popular in Cape Cod and Boston, where it has become a culinary staple and a symbol of the region's rich seafood tradition. Fried clams are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, and they are often featured on menus of seafood restaurants and clam shacks throughout the area.

Where to find fried clams?

If you're craving a plate of delicious fried clams, there are several places in Cape Cod and Boston where you can satisfy your appetite. Here are some of the top spots to find this delectable seafood dish:

1. The Clam Box - Ipswich, MA

The Clam Box in Ipswich is a legendary seafood shack that has been serving up fried clams since 1935. Their clams are known for their tender texture and perfectly crisp coating. The restaurant also offers other seafood favorites like fish and chips and clam chowder.

2. Woodman's of Essex - Essex, MA

Woodman's of Essex is another iconic seafood restaurant that has been around for over a century. Their fried clams are made using a secret family recipe that has been passed down through generations. The restaurant also boasts beautiful waterfront views, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a plate of clams.

3. Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar - Eastham, MA

Located on Cape Cod, Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar is a popular destination for seafood lovers. Their fried clams are made using fresh local clams and a light, crispy batter. The restaurant also offers a range of other seafood options, as well as outdoor seating and a mini-golf course.

4. Neptune Oyster - Boston, MA

If you're in the mood for a more upscale dining experience, Neptune Oyster in Boston is the place to go. While they specialize in oysters, their fried clams are also a standout dish. The clams are fried to perfection and served with a side of homemade tartar sauce.

How are fried clams made?

The process of making fried clams involves several steps to ensure the perfect combination of tenderness and crunchiness. Here's a brief overview of how they are made:

1. Cleaning and shucking the clams

The first step is to clean and shuck the clams. This involves removing the clams from their shells and discarding any dirt or debris. Soft-shell clams and whole belly clams are typically used for frying, as they have a tender texture and a mild flavor that pairs well with the crispy batter.

2. Preparing the batter

Next, a seasoned batter is prepared. The exact recipe may vary, but it usually includes a combination of flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and other spices. The batter should have a smooth consistency that coats the clams evenly.

3. Dredging the clams

The cleaned clams are then dredged in the prepared batter, ensuring that they are fully coated. This step helps to seal in the natural juices of the clams and adds a flavorful crust when fried.

4. Frying the clams

The final step is to fry the clams until they are golden brown and crispy. This is typically done in hot oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, for a few minutes until the clams are cooked through and the batter is crispy. The clams are then removed from the oil and drained on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.

There are several reasons why fried clams have gained such popularity, especially in the Cape Cod and Boston areas:

1. Freshness and quality

The New England region is known for its abundant seafood, and fried clams showcase the freshness and quality of the local catch. The clams used in this dish are often sourced locally, ensuring that they are as fresh as possible. This commitment to using high-quality ingredients is a key factor in the popularity of fried clams.

2. Unique flavor and texture

Fried clams offer a unique combination of flavors and textures. The tender, briny clams are perfectly complemented by the crispy and seasoned batter. This contrast of textures and flavors creates a satisfying eating experience that keeps people coming back for more.

3. Culinary tradition

Fried clams have a long-standing culinary tradition in the New England region. They are deeply rooted in the area's history and have become an integral part of the local food culture. For many, indulging in a plate of fried clams is not just about satisfying hunger but also about connecting with the region's rich heritage.

4. Versatility

Another reason for the popularity of fried clams is their versatility. They can be enjoyed as a standalone dish with tartar sauce or lemon wedges, or incorporated into other dishes like clam rolls or clam chowder. This versatility allows people to enjoy fried clams in different ways, catering to a variety of tastes and preferences.

What makes fried clams the best?

While opinions may vary, there are several factors that contribute to making fried clams the best fried food in the world:

1. Freshness and quality of ingredients

The use of fresh, high-quality clams is essential to the success of fried clams. When the clams are sourced locally and are as fresh as possible, they have a sweet and briny flavor that sets them apart from other seafood options.

2. Perfectly executed frying technique

The art of frying clams lies in achieving the perfect balance of tenderness and crispiness. When done correctly, the clams should be tender and juicy on the inside while boasting a golden and crispy exterior. Achieving this delicate balance requires skill and precision.

3. Seasoned batter

The seasoned batter used to coat the clams is another important element that sets fried clams apart. The combination of flour, cornmeal, and spices adds flavor and texture to the dish, enhancing the overall eating experience.

4. Nostalgia and tradition

For many, fried clams evoke a sense of nostalgia and tradition. They are often associated with memories of summers spent by the seaside or family gatherings where seafood was enjoyed. This emotional connection adds to the appeal of fried clams and contributes to their status as the best fried food in the world.


Fried clams are more than just a delicious seafood dish; they represent a culinary tradition and a connection to the New England region's rich history. The combination of fresh clams, a perfectly executed frying technique, and a seasoned batter creates a dish that is beloved by locals and visitors alike.

Whether you're indulging in a plate of fried clams at a clam shack on Cape Cod or enjoying a more upscale dining experience in Boston, you can be sure that you're savoring one of the best fried foods in the world. So, the next time you find yourself in Cape Cod or Boston, be sure to treat yourself to this iconic and delectable dish.

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