So- some folks clean and fry their clams whole, while others separate the diggers from the neck and body, leaving the succulent and tender digger to be savored as the gourmet delicacy that it is. A few weeks ago I shared my recipe for clam chowder, and several of you wrote to me, horrified that I was putting spices into the chowder. I stand by my recipe, ready to defend it at a tasting. Not that I don’t absolutely love the classic onion, potato, milk, clam basic recipe. But do not condemn mine until you have tasted it! This week I bravely step forward with my recipe for Clam Fritters. As with any recipe, this one was developed over many years of trial and error. Step number one is to grind the necks and bodies, but not the diggers! If you are feeling frisky and adventurous, you may decide to add a clove of minced garlic to the fritters. But it’s darned good even without the garlic!
The trick is to get the mixture to the right consistency so that you can pat it into the pan. You don’t want it at ALL loose, but you don’t want it too stiff. This is a Goldilocks type of decision; porridge number 1, 2 or 3. For my husband and I, a standard size round frying pan is perfect , and this recipe will cover dinner for two nights. However, if you have a family, I recommend using a large skillet, rectangular griddle style. I have learned a wonderful trick. If using the round one half recipe frying pan, I get out my pizza pan. After the fritter has cooked until golden brown on one side, I place the pizza pan over the skillet, hold it firmly in place, and with one graceful movement flip the fritter onto the pizza pan. Add a bit more oil to the pan. Then slide the whole fritter back into the frying pan to finish cooking. When using a large rectangular skillet I use a cookie sheet to perform the same maneuver. Finish cooking and then flip back into the pan to cut into serving pieces. The first time that I performed this stunt with the large pan in front of company, I said a heartfelt prayer. But it worked, and my confidence soared!
Barbara’s Razor Clam Fritters
six slices of cooked bacon, cooled and crumbled
two cups of ground clams
one teaspoon of seafood seasoning
one teaspoon of celery salt
one clove of minced garlic (optional)
two beaten eggs
four tablespoons of flour
two cups of Panko
Mix all ingredients together. If the mixture drops loosely from the spoon, add more Panko. Bring your pan up to medium heat, coat with good oil ( I prefer canola oil) Plop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the pan and flatten with your spatula. It should bind together easily as you whack it with the spatula. Cook for about 5 minutes, but check that it is a golden brown. Do Not Overcook! Flip the fritter as per instructions, oil the pan, then gently slide the fritter back onto the pan. Cook until second side is golden brown, about another 5 minutes.
Serve with lemon juice, tartar sauce or ketchup. It pains me to see ketchup used on clams, but there it is- some people like it that way.
Finally, for a truly fantastic experience, I encourage you to visit the Matlock Old Timers Historical Fair this weekend. This is my all-time favorite local festival. It’s a bit like stepping through a time portal and being transported back 100 years. The exhibits, the food, the music, the neighborliness of everyone there- you will find yourself wanting to move to Matlock. Matlock is definitely off the beaten path, but the fair is easy to find. Take the Brady exit from Hwy. 12, go 19 miles up the road and stop when you see the fair.
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Hoquiam Farmers Market and Deidra’s Deli. The market is open Wed. thru Sun., the Deli is open daily.
1958 Riverside ph. 538-9747