Quahog Agog: Clam Cakes – Rhode Island

The smallest state in the country, Rhode Island, is home to some exceptional eats, including coffee milk, New York System Wieners and pizza strips. But because Rhode Island is also known as the Ocean State, we decided to bring you a dish featuring the popular quahog, a unique seafood recipe for one of our favorite dishes, clam cakes.

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

Quahog (pronounced KO-hog) is a Narragansett Indian-derived term for the hard-shell clam found in these regions. You can use canned clams in your cakes, but we used fresh and steamed them ourselves to capture that bright ocean flavor. The maple syrup, buttermilk and beer are an unusual combination, but they all work together to create a winning dish. We recommend a shallow fryer so that the cakes turn out flat rather than golf ball-like. Eat these as an appetizer or dipped in New England Clam Chowder.

Head to Newport, Rhode Island, October 18-19, 2014, for Bowen’s Wharf Annual Seafood Festival. 

Rhode Island Clam Cakes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Hank Shaw, http://honest-food.net, used with permission.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds littleneck clams (yields approx. 1 cup of clam meat = approx. 30 clams)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup reserved clam cooking liquid
  • 1/2 cup cold beer
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Tartar sauce or Tabasco sauce (for dipping)

Instructions

To steam clams: Pick through clams and discard any with cracked or damaged shells. Soak for 20 minutes in fresh water. Lift them out of the water bath (do not strain) and brush vigorously to get rid of any excess sand. Heat 3 to 4 cups of water in a large pot with onion, celery and carrot trimmings until slowly boiling. Turn down heat to medium. Add clams and cover. Steam about 4 to 6 minutes or until the shells start to open. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard any clams that do not open. Once shells are cool enough to handle, open shells, extract meat and chop finely. Reserve the cooking liquid.

To make clam cakes: Heat oil to 350 degrees, preferably in a shallow fryer. Mix all dry ingredients. Mix the clams and all liquid ingredients except the beer. After oil is hot, add beer, then gently fold liquid ingredients into the dry until just combined.

Drop tablespoons of batter into hot oil (and be careful not to crowd the pot). Fry batches until golden, turning once, for approximately 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar or Tabasco sauce, or dip in New England Clam Chowder.

 

 

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