We’re making a big jump from down south to the East Coast today, with a Boston staple – Chowder! (Or chow-dah, to be specific!).
I am a big fan of all things soup, so I was very excited to cook up a good old fashioned chowder. My only hesitation was that, as a reformed picky-eater, I still tend to be cautious about unfamiliar seafood. This influenced my decision to put a little spin on this New England classic.
What I ended up with was a corn and bacon chowder, with a side of beer-battered, fried clams.
This was a very, very good decision. The fried clams were DELICIOUS! We ended up using them as crispy croutons and threw them right on top of the soup.
For the soup, I used a classic corn chowder recipe, like this one from Chowhound.
For the clams, we ended up just winging it! I bought a bag of frozen, pre-cooked clam meat. (I was nervous about trying to steam fresh ones myself) I thawed them out and we whipped up a standard beer batter using roughly equal parts beer and flour and seasoned it with salt pepper, and a dash of Old Bay seasoning. You want a batter that’s not too thick, but that doesn’t drip off too easily. You might have to play around with adding more beer or flour to get a consistency that works for you. I dredged the clams in flour before tossing them into the beer batter.
We used a large, heavy skillet and filled it with about a half-inch of canola oil. You could use a larger pot and do more of a deep-fry, but as I don’t have a proper cooking thermometer, I went with a shallow pan-fry instead.
I tested the heat of the oil by dropping in a dollop of the batter to see if it sizzled. Once the heat was right, I started added the battered clams in batches. They did not need a long time in the pan as the meat was pre-cooked. It only took about 1-2 minutes per side. Once these babies were a deep golden colour, I used a slotted spoon to take them from the oil and put them on a paper towel to drain. I immediately hit them with another dash of salt and then continued frying the clams in batches until they were all cooked.
I could have eaten these things like popcorn. They were so crispy on the outside and the clam meat was tender on the inside.
I served them alongside the chowder, but as I mentioned, many of them ended up right in the soup. They functioned as a bit of a crispy crouton and turned by regular corn chowder into clam chowder after all!
This dish was a bit more labour intensive, just because it took several batches to get through all the clams, but it was worth every minute.
I hope I did the East Coast proud with this twist on an old favourite.
I hope you come back soon for more of my North American culinary Road Trip!