Having grown up with summers in New England, I have come to align the transition period between summer and fall with the crispy, chewy goodness of fresh fried clams. To me, the light crunch and tender, melting clam meat is equally as significant a season-changer as the coloration of the leaves.
There are many high quality clam shacks along the coast of New England, with favorites including Woodman's in Ipswich, Mass. and The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine. This summer, I had the pleasure of trying Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine.
Bob's Clam Hut isn't shy of press, having been featured for their lobster roll in "Food & Wine" and toured by Guy Fieri on "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives." It seemed fitting to get my yearly clam fix at their vetted establishment.
Bob's differentiates their food from the many other shacks in the area by guaranteeing only the freshest of seafood, with deliveries of clams, scallops, and haddock coming in daily. All of the fish is fried in fresh oil, with clean oil rotating into the kitchen multiple times throughout the day. This insistence on fresh, clean ingredients comes through in the simplicity of each of their dishes.
I was able to taste the famed lobster roll, the delightfully flaky fried haddock, and the soft and sweet scallops, but it was the clams that I came for which most impressed me.
Bob's offers two recipes for their claims: Bob's style, a simple approach using only a light dredge in flour before frying, and Lillian's style, a heavier batter that includes a quick soak in egg wash. The difference in taste is not overly drastic, with Lillian's providing a slightly fluffier coating and Bob's delivering more of the clam taste. As a clam purist, I leaned toward the Bob's style as favorite.
Though a trip to Maine for great clams alone is always worth it, simply fried clams can be made at home, as well. The staff at Bob's offered some great tips for frying at home in these final weeks of summer. Pair fresh fried clams with tartar sauce and a side of slaw and you'll be holding on to the warmth of summer days far into fall.
4 Easy Tips for Frying Clams at Home from Bob's Clam Hut:
- Always use the freshest ingredients, clams should be fried as close to their catch date as possible.
- Fry your fish in clean oil, older oil will impart a stronger grease taste.
- Fish should fry at a high heat for a short amount of time, 350 degrees Fahrenheit is best.
- Do not overpower your clams with seasoning, fresh clams should have enough sweetness to shine on their own.
If you're ready to give it a try here is a simple fried clam recipe to get you started.
Bob's Clam Hut
Address: 315 U.S. 1, Kittery, ME 03904