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Fried Ipswich Clams
with Fried Lemons
Makes 4-6 Appetizer Servings
Ingredients
* FRIED LEMONS:
*1/2 cup kosher salt, plus more as needed
*1/2 cup sugar
*2 lemons
*Peanut oil for frying
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*Freshly ground black pepper
*Cayenne
*1 cup buttermilk
* FRIED IPSWICH CLAMS:
*Peanut oil for frying (about 4 cups)
*2 cups all-purpose flour
*Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*Cayenne
*48 whole Ipswich or soft-shell clams
*2 cups buttermilk
*3 lemons, cut in wedges, for garnish
*2 cups Kinkead's Tartar Sauce
Instructions
1To make the fried lemons, combine the kosher salt and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Slice the lemons into 1/4- to 1/8-inch slices and discard the smaller end slices. Toss the lemon slices in this mixture to completely coat them and shake off any excess. Place on a baking sheet and let cure in a cool place for 4 to 6 hours. Spread the lemon slices in a single layer on a baking rack to dehydrate and place in a warm, dry area for about 12 hours. Brush off any excess salt-sugar mixture and pat dry. The slices should be quite dehydrated but not completely stiff. If still very moist, let dry for 12 more hours.
2To fry the lemon slices, heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a deep fryer or cast-iron skillet to 350F degrees. Season the flour with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Put the buttermilk in a deep bowl and add the lemon slices. Let them soak for 1 to 2 minutes, then dredge in the seasoned flour. Drop one by one into the hot oil so they do not clump together. Fry for about 2 minutes, then turn and fry for about 1 more minute, until crisp and brown. Remove from the hot oil and drain on paper towels.
3To make the fried clams, heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a deep fryer or cast-iron skillet to 350F degrees. Season the flour with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Dip the clams in the buttermilk and then in the seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour. Drop one by one into the hot oil so they do not clump together. Fry for about 2 minutes, turn, and fry for 1 to 2 more minutes, until crisp and brown. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the fried lemon slices, lemon wedges and tartar sauce on the side.
Notes
  • This dish has been a signature at Kinkead's since our opening in 1993. Fried clams remind me of summers on Cape Cod; they are typical fare at almost any roadside fish shack on the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts.
  • The fried lemons are an unusual, tart accompaniment to the clams. The best way to eat them is to top a fried lemon slice with some tartar sauce and a fried clam, then pop it whole into your mouth. Assembled like this, they also make a nice passed hors d'oeuvre.
  • The trick to making great fried clams is to use whole belly clams, not strips and give them plenty of room - don't crowd them, either in the hot oil or after they have been fried. Crisp is the object of the game. The problem with most clam shacks is that they serve their fried clams in cardboard containers which crowds the clams and steams the crisp coating.
  • Source
    Executive Chef Bob Kinkead, Kinkead's Restaurant, Washington, D.C.