Empire Falls by Richard Russo might be one of my favourite, if not absolute favourite, summer reads. Russo is a great story teller, and the setting of a sleepy New England town combined with flashbacks to Miles Roby’s summers with his mother in Martha’s Vineyard make this novel well suited to beach reading.
In the flashback scenes Mile’s remembers eating steamed clams at a diner and how they were unlike anything he had ever had before. As summer is winding down I decided to try my hand at making New England style fried, rather than steamed, clams. I followed a recipe from this site, but used evaporated milk rather than buttermilk as I find it coats things better.
For the Fry Mix
- 1 cup corn flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the clams
- 1 1/2 pounds of shucked whole-belly steamer clams
- About 6 cups peanut, canola, or other vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 cup evaporated milk
To make the new england style fry mix, combine the flours, salt, and both peppers in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Fry the clams
- Heat 3 inches of oil to 375°F in a frying pan oven over medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, pour the evaporated milk into a large bowl, and put the fry mix in another.
- Drop the clams into the evaporated milk and stir gently.
- Use a slotted spoon to lift the clams out of the evaporated milk and into the fry mix. Toss gently to coat.
- Fry the clams in batches, about 1-2 minutes a side or until golden brown.
- Serve with tartar or cocktail sauce.