How to Prepare Fresh Clams for Frying

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A common favorite in New England, clams have become a common seafood item in many areas of the country. Inside their shell, clams are apt for baking, steaming, and grilling. Shucked from their shell, clams are often either eaten raw or fried. With some patience and some passion for seafood, you can easily prepare fresh clams for frying in your own home.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Salt water
  • Small bowl
  • Medium-to-large size bowl
  • Clam knife
  • Small towel
  • Clams
  • 1 bottle beer (optional)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • Spices
  • Remove any dead clams from your supply. Dead clams have a tendency to quickly propagate dangerous bacteria. Although largely a concern for those who prefer to eat them raw, dead clams should be avoided in general. Tap clams against a hard surface to elicit a closing response if it is open. If the clam is closed, try to force the clam open with a clam knife to see if it resists opening. Clams that do not respond should be discarded.

  • Rinse your clams in cool saltwater to remove grit and sand. Real seawater works best and should be used if possible. Allow the clams to soak in a bucket of cool water, which should be changed periodically and repeated. After soaking, rinse them with cool water, place in a medium-to-large sized bowl and cover with a wet cloth. Clams should keep in this manner for up to three days.

  • Boil a large pot of water. Immediately prior to shucking, clams should be boiled for no more than 30 seconds. Drain the hot water as quickly as possible after the 30 seconds. Once drained, fill the pot with cold or ice water. This process does not cook them, but loosens them up for easier opening.

  • Place a small towel over your palm to protect you hand while shucking. Set the clam in the palm of your hand with the opening facing toward you. Carefully insert the blade of the clam knife into the open space between shells and twist the blade, forcing the shells apart. Run the blade along the top shell, severing the clam from the inside, repeating for the bottom shell.

  • Rinse the now shucked clams with cold water. Larger clams can be cut into smaller pieces for easier frying. In a small bowl, combine a cup of your favorite beer, flour (wheat or corn), salt, pepper and other spice of your choice. Mix thoroughly for a simple and tasty batter. Batter each clam piece before frying.

Tips & Warnings

  • Soft-shelled clams are generally used when frying clams, but hard-shells will also work, although they are harder to shuck.
  • Clams are sometimes harvested illegally from polluted waters that put the consumer at risk. Check for government issued shipper's tags from vendors. Always hold and work with knife blades pointed away from you.

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