Tag Archive for: Woodman’s of Essex

Fried Clams To Die For


There are fried clams and then there are fried clams!!  This past week I attended a conference in Freeport, ME.  I asked at the Harraseeket Inn where we were staying who had the best fried clams in the area where the locals ate.  I was told it was the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster on Casco Bay. The weather was quite lovely on the evening we went. The lobster shack was like so many other lobster and clam shacks along the coast of New England. Visitors had the choice of dining in or out, but since there was quite a breeze we decided to eat in the dining room which was simple and immaculate.


At the window we ordered fried clams and learned you could have them with a choice of batters, crumbs or batter. My friend and I went with the crumbs and it was an excellent choice. The clams with the batter option would have been more batter than clams in my humble opinion. The fried clams with the crumbs were light with just the right amount of batter. One could actually enjoy the taste of the clams. It didn’t hurt that these were most likely the freshest clams I have ever eaten. Literally right off the boat! The order came with fries which were hot and crispy and the order was large enough for the two of us to share one order.

Batter choice

Crab Cakes

As an appetizer, we tried the crab cakes.  Again they were made with Maine crabs and were light and absolutely delicious. If you are heading to Maine this summer, it is a mere 3 miles from L L Bean on Main Street. Just head down Bow St (right across from the main entrance), take a right on South and continue until you see the sign for Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster right on Casco Bay.

Clam Cakes

Fried Clams at Janine’s in Ware, MA

Believe or not, Janine’s in Ware, MA serves delicious fried clams and an excellent lobster roll.  Whenever I have had their fried clams I have requested a light dusting of flour which make them similar to those at Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster.

Fried Clam Recipe from Woodman’s in Essex, MA

For the recipe from the inventor of the fried clam, check out our blog at http://tasteandtales.com/books/chubby-and-the-clam/.


Chubby and the Clam – Woodman’s celebrates 100 years

6a012876db717c970c01a3fd11bc5d970b-320wi“The ubiquitous fried clam was invented on July 3, 1916 at Woodman’s in Essex. Whether on purpose or by accident, Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman dropped a clam or two into a fryer while he was making a batch of french fries and lo and behold, the fried clam was born. To true New Englanders, a fried clam must have the belly and they must be Ipswich clams; those small, yet ever so succulent, bivalves (shells consisting of two halves, or valves). The Ipswich clam is really a bivalve king, monarch of the mollusks. Dug from tidal flats along the Essex River, the clams must, by law, be taken only by a hand rake and not dredged.”  Taste and Tales of Massachusetts

On Sunday, I saw an article about a new cookbook, Woodman’s of Essex — Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes.  Immediately e-mailed a fellow food, Heather Atwood of Gloucester, who said it was great.  It came today and has all the famous recipes that countless thousands have enjoyed throughout the years, but one!  I figured it would be the fried clam recipe and I was wrong, it is the fried onion recipe.  So whether it is Nannie Woodman’s, Lemon Pie or the great cole slaw, they are all here.

Chubby and Bessie’s Fried Clams

  • 26 ounces whole belly clams
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 4 cups corn flour
  • Lard (Crisco can be used). Do not use olive oil.


  1. In a 4 quart saucepan, melt 2 3/4 pounds lard or vegetable oil to a depth of 2-inches in the pan. Heat to 350 degrees F. Using two bowls, pour evaporated milk into one, and corn flour into the other. In small batches put the clams in a hand-held strainer, and submerge into the bowl of evaporated milk to coat. Remove the strainer from the bowl and shake off the excess milk.  Next dredge the clams until they are well covered with corn flour (you may want to use a clean dry hand-held strainer to shake off the excess flour).
  2. Carefully place the clams into hot lard or oil. Be careful, because lard will spatter.  Cook in small batches, turning to cook both sides, until they are golden brown.  Using a slotted scoop remove from oil. Shake gently to remove excess oil. The clams will take approximately 1 1/2 minutes to cook. The color is the most important. They should be a golden brown.  Serves 8 (appetizer-sized servings).

For those few who have never been to Woodman’s, the restaurant is located on Main Street (Rt. 133), Essex, MA.

Courtesy of Woodman’s of Essex — Five Generations of Stories, 100 Years of Recipes