Clam Cakes, Rhody Style
Clam cakes (also known as clam fritters) are a New England classic. Though these delicious, fried dough balls are often found in seafood shacks from Maine to Connecticut, the clam cake is legendary in the tiny ( but mighty) state of Rhode Island. The name says “cake,” but they are more like beignets or fritters. The batter has flour, milk, clam juice, eggs, cornmeal, baking powder, and, of course, mounds of chopped clams. New Englanders tend to use a type of clam called a quahog (yes if you watch Family Guy... there is such a thing). The quahogs are enormous clams that are perfect for this type of cooking style, chopped up and deep-fried in the batter. The outside of the clam cake is golden, while the inside is light and pillowy. Though the snack is often served with a hot bowl of clam chowder, they are so good they can stand on their own. In classic fried food style, the cakes come in small brown paper bags to collect the oil from the cooking.
The most famous place for clam cakes in Rhode Island was the amusement park Rocky Point. Rocky Point was a family-oriented, classic amusement park with a huge pavilion that forked out huge quantities of clam cakes and Rhode Island-style chowder daily. It was tradition to go to the pavilion first to be adequately nourished before you got thrown around on the rides. In my cookbook, A Thyme to Discover, I made a bacon-kissed version of Rhode Island Clam Cakes.
But if you are looking for the classic Rocky Point Park Clam Cakes and Chowder, search no more.
1 large piece of packaged salt pork
3 large onions
2 large bags of yellow potatoes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons salt (your preference)
1 large can tomato puree
1 large container fresh chopped clams (raw)
1 sleeve saltine crackers
Chop salt pork into large cubes and sauté in a large pot.
Chop and add the onions and cover. Cook until soft.
Wash, peel and chop the potatoes. Then add them to the pot.
Fill with water until the potatoes are covered.
Cook until the potatoes are soft. Add container of clams and tomato pure.
Bring to a boil then crumble the crackers in, add spices and simmer.
After simmering for about an hour, remove chunks of salt pork and serve.
1 container chopped uncooked clams
1 cup corn meal
3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt (your preference)
1 cup milk
In a small pot, cook the clams (add 2 cups of water).
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
Then add the eggs (beaten) and milk. When clams are fully cooked, strain them and add them to the batter.
When that is mixed, slowly add the clam juice until a smooth, thick batter is achieved.
Heat cooking oil in a pot and drop batter using metal spoons. Flip when golden brown.
Remove and drain on paper towels.