Beautiful Rhode Island Clam Cakes. Featuring extra clams.
Clam cakes are a Rhode Island tradition. If you’re traveling to the Ocean State, especially near the beaches, you’ll find them. They’re not cakes, exactly, they’re actually fritters — hot fried balls of dough speckled with chopped fresh briny sweet clams. The more chopped clams the better.
Even in Rhode Island we make our own; that way we only have ourselves to blame if they’re low on clams. Hot out of the fryer and generously salted there’s nothing better with a cold beer, a cocktail, or glass of Italian white.
The mix is mostly flour with a little corn meal. The directions call for 8 ounces of chopped clams. We add a whole pint of clams, with the juice, adding just enough water so that the fritter batter is scoopable and soft, but not runny.
The other trick to great clam cakes is to keep the oil temperature on the low side (about 350F to 360F) instead of the usual 365F to 370F for frying. Clam cakes need enough time in the oil to completely cook the dough at the center. With too high an oil temperature you’ll have beautiful brown clam cakes that are unbaked and gooey in the center. Not good.
Keep a frying thermometer handy to monitor the temperature. And you can stick a toothpick in the center — if it comes out clean, it’s cooked. Sprinkle generously with salt while they’re hot.
Clam cakes keep well in freezer. Store them in freezer-grade sealable plastic bags or containers and squeeze/burp excess air from the bag or container. They reheat well in an oven or a toaster oven so make the whole box of mix since you’ve got the oil hot.
You can use the same Kenyon clam cake mix to make corn fritters. And if you don’t have a mix around (store it in the fridge) use our basic recipe featuring our favorite southern self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal mix for making clam cakes, corn fritters, and apple fritters.
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
- See variations for additional ingredients
- Whisk the egg and milk (or omit the milk and add the clams and their juice here) together in a medium mixing bowl.
- Stir in the flour, cornmeal (and sugar and seasonings for corn or apple fritters, see below).
- The batter should be soft, but not soupy.
- Heat a Dutch oven, deep-sided skillet, or electric skillet with 2 to 3 inches of oil to 355 degrees. Using two spoons, one to coax the batter out of the other spoon, carefully place tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil.
- The fritters should be about golf ball size.
- Don't drop the batter as this causes splattering. Let the spoon touch the oil.
- Fry in the hot oil (355 degrees) until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Roll the fritters around while frying so all sides are evenly browned.
- Drain on paper towels. Eat while hot.
- Clam Cakes
- Stir 8 ounces of fresh chopped clams with their juice (no more than 1/2 cup) with the egg, omit the milk until later. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add a little milk as necessary. Sprinkle clam cakes liberally with salt after frying.
- Corn Fritters
- Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon course-ground black pepper with the dry ingredients. Stir in 1 can (15.5 ounces) corn kernels, drained, into the batter. Sprinkle fritters liberally with salt after frying.
- Apple Fritters
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with the dry ingredients. Stir in one large, peeled and chopped apple into the batter. Roll the fritters in sugar while hot.
Now that you’ve mastered clam cakes and fritters, how about corn dogs!