Make Ahead

Clam Cakes, my Rhode Island style

August 10, 2011
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I grew up on the coast of Rhode Island where our fairs always featured clam cakes. When I was in fifth grade I made my first batch of corn fritters while I was home alone, both shocking and delighting my family. Later I got the idea of combining the corn with clams to make these hybrid cakes. If you are making clam chowder, then this is a great recipe to make along side of that. For a vegetarian version simply use 3/4 cup each of buttemilk and beer with just 1 cup of corn. —Sagegreen

Test Kitchen Notes

Sagegreen's Rhode Island style clam cakes certainly bring you back to a day at the fair. Crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy inside -- speckled with fresh corn and clams. Serve with recommended bread and butter pickles, tartar or hot sauce, these little cakes will bring a bit of yummy fun to your next gathering. - jvcooks —jvcooks

  • Makes 30-36
  • 1-1 1/4 cups minced clams, Quahogs preferred, or other hard shell clams
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2-3/4 cups corn cut off the cob, raw or cooked, silver queen or shoepeg preferred
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk otherwise)
  • 1/2 cup clam broth
  • 1/2 cup beer, Narragansett suggested, or more clam broth
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • canola oil for deep frying
In This Recipe
  1. If you are only making this recipe, then you will want around 4 quarts of unshucked clams. The easy direction is to scrub the shells well and steam just until they open. If you are not familiar with clams, and you want more help, then you may want to soak them in a gallon of cool water with about 1/3 cup of kosher salt dissolved (do not use iodized salt!) and 1 cup of cornmeal for 2-3 hours to tease out any sand. Then scrub the shells and rinse clean under cold running water. Discard any that aren’t tightly closed. I usually just scrub and steam. Put the clams in a stockpot and cover with cool water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot and cook just until the quahogs open, about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook. Immediately remove the quahogs from the pot. Save the broth to use in a chowder base. When clams are cool, mince into 1/8 to 1/4 inch chunks. Make sure there is no sand in the bellies. Clean and rinse if needed. Sometimes I use more clams and less corn in this recipe. The total combined amount should not exceed 2 cups, but be at least 1 cup.
  2. Mix the eggs, milk, broth, and beer together. Stir in the minced clams and corn. If I have leftover corn on the cob, then I use cooked. If I have fresh corn, then I use it raw off the cob, as long as it is a tender kind of corn.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together. Stir in the wet ingredients.
  4. When your oil is sizzling (@ 350), drop a tablespoon at a time of the batter into the fat. I just cooked three batches, 10-12 as a batch, in a small Dutch oven in oil about 3 inches deep . These puff up quickly, within 5 minutes. When each has turned golden brown and floats to the top, drain on paper towels. Serve in parchment cones while hot, about 6 per person. I do not like to keep these warm and serve later. So be ready to gobble them right after you cook them. Serve these up plain or with some bread and butter pickles for our odd New England tradition.
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