Deep-fat frying has not been something I have done, and it is obviously not a low-fat cooking method. However, recently I found some nice breaded clam strips in the supermarket. Fried clams are not as easy to get in Denver as at Durgin Park in Boston, and I have a liking for them, so I decided to buy the clam strips. I thought they would be prepared in the oven, like the usual (and disappointing) frozen fried clams commonly available. However, they recommended deep-fat frying, so I decided to learn how to do this.
You need a candy/fat thermometer that clips on to the side of a small saucepan. I looked for a wire basket to hold the things to be fried, as I had seen in the past, but did not find one. A slotted spoon made an adequate substitute. I used a 1-quart saucepan, and filled it half full with vegetable oil (pans used for deep-fat frying should never be filled to near the brim). The recommended temperature was 350°F (175°C). The package did not even suggest baking in the oven. I was very careful of the hot oil, since this is what they used to pour on beseigers trying to climb the walls. Also, I have an electric range that is probably safer than an open gas fire. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher somewhere about for safety.
The thermometer goes up to 400°F. Watch it frequently when heating the oil. I brought the oil above 375°F before carefully putting in the clam strips, holding them in the slotted spoon and immersing them gently. Do not put in too many, or the temperature will drop too much. The temperature did not go far below 350°F, and a load of strips cooked in about 60 seconds. I made two loads for one serving after learning about the temperature drop, draining each load on paper towels after frying.
Let the oil cool after use to 150°F or below before pouring it out for storage and washing the thermometer, spoon and saucepan.
The clams were really quite good, with tartar sauce and cole slaw. Cole slaw can be made very easily by slicing a quarter-cabbage finely, and adding Marie's Cole Slaw Dressing, available at the supermarket.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 10 November 2003
Last revised 21 March 2004