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Aug 27, 2002 04:07 PM

A few clammy encounters

  • c

Wasn't able to make it on the clam crawl recently, but have been indulging the urge at a few places lately.

About a month ago went to Turner Fisheries in Melrose. Usually we've had pretty good seafood here but these clams were a big disappointment. They were soggy, lukewarm and tasted way too fishy.

About a week ago it was Seawitch on Route 1 N in Danvers/Peabody area. Clams were fairly light and crispy, with decent sized bellies but the real winner was the fried scallops, which were sweet and juicy and everything a scallop should be. What's with the fried smelts on the Fisherman's Platter? Who really eats those things?

Today was Clam Box, with a Fisherman's Platter (big bellies of course), coleslaw, onion rings and clam chowder. The chowder was on the thin side, chock full of clams, a fairly bland. Clams were, as always spectacular, light and crispy and oh so good. Bellies didn't seem overly large to me, but hit the spot. Fish and shrimp on the platter were both very good. The scallops were pretty bad. Mushy and very fishy tasting (more fishy tasting than the fish!) Onion rings were pretty bland, and coleslaw was good, not too mayonaissey.

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  1. Grew up waiting for the smelt runs in Duluth MN every Spring. Properly fried or sauteed smelts are terrific - often eaten bones & all sans heads.

    11 Replies
    1. re: GinaT

      Legal Seafood used to sell fried smelts for a buck a piece at their bar...A lovely snack to indulge in while sipping...They just SOUND funny, so people don't realize they're a tasty, white-fleshed fish...Just too much work to fry'em...

      Glad to hear the Sea Witch is still holding it's own...One of my favorite places (that steamer app. cpould be a meal with the steamed veggies!), but I heard a mediocre opinion of the fried-scallops a few weeks ago..Must have been a fluke... Phew!!!

      When we were at the Clam Box, there was a sign that said big bellies were available on request; maybe ya had to ask.

      1. re: galleygirl

        Oh, we asked for the big bellies, just didn't think they were particularly big. But it sounds like that's just the season this year.

        Maybe I need to give the smelts a try, these are not tiny little things, though, a good six inches each, maybe a bit more with head and tail accounted for. But I just couldn't take the little guys staring out at me last time I was there.

        As for the fried scallops, the frying technique was perfectly ordinary, it's just the scallops that were exceptional. Blew Clam Box's scallops out of the water.

        1. re: Chris VR

          Ah well, size is all relative; a belly can neve be too big, maybe a smelt can never be too small! :)

          And how were those Sea Witch clams?

          1. re: galleygirl

            Had a Smelt Melt once in Maine for breakfast at the Wake-N-Bakery. Or was it at that little place in Locke Mills ? Anyway, two fried smelts on toasted buttered scala bread with a Kraft single melted on it. With coffee. Awesome. Never skied better in my life after that............

            1. re: 1crispydude

              Oh yum, I'd do that in a second...Smelt, breakfast of champions!

              (Actually, any kind of fish for breakfast is a good thing... One of my friends always asks if I was Japanese in a past life...)

              1. re: galleygirl

                Being jewish does help......

                1. re: 1crispydude

                  Oh, same thing! :)

            2. re: galleygirl

              The clams were good, very good for not having to trek all the way up to Ipswich/Essex. And, like everything else at Seawitch, much less expensive than mist other places around. Thumbs up! Although not a place to come to with a party larger than 4 people, as they only have a few tables to accommodate larger parties. But they do take reservations for those larger tables, so a large party just has to plan a bit.

            3. re: Chris VR

              Oh, sorry! I never fix them with their heads on. D.

            4. re: galleygirl

              how do you figure they are too much work to fry them?

              As far as frying foes, they seem a lot simpler than a lot of other things.

              1. re: baruch

                Sorry, I didn't mean that smelts were harder to fry than any other food; just that I'm too lazy to fry foods in general, and don't do it often enough,(for health interests) to make it worthwhile....That fear-of-frying thing!

          2. Count us in as smelt eaters here in MI. We love them. You can eat bones and all but I prefer to pick out the bones while nibbling on them. Just dip in cormneal and fry them hot and crispy! Thanks for listening!

            1. Didn't do the Clam crawl either, but have frequented the Clam Box all summer. The scallops are usually very good, I'm surprised that you were disappointed. On Sunday, based on the clam crawl report we made the trip to Essex Seafood. The fried clams were excellent, as were the shrimp and steamers. Didn't try the chowder.

              My comment on chowder - Good chowder should be thin, never thick. Chowder should never have flour or any thickening agent, only potato starch to thicken.

              2 Replies
              1. re: humin32

                I will also tolerate some (but not too much) cream, which can also assist to thicken a smidge. Basically, I like a combo of broth and whole milk as my base. If the broth and clams are well flavored, they can hold up to a bit o' cream, but not so much as to overwhelm the flavor. I don't like too many potatoes, either, and they better not be overly firm; the undercooked vegetable craze must cease!

                And, despite what Thorne says in "Serious Pig", I love freshly cracked pepper on (not in) my chowder...

                1. re: Karl S.

                  Man, finally, someone else whose not into wallpaper paste chowder. (Maybe some youngin's here don't remember wallpaper paste either). I'm not a big fan of Kelly's on Revere Beach anymore. Many moons ago, (60's & 70's) it was!
                  However, I love their chowda. Just like my grandmother from Ireland made her chowda. Pure cream/milk/broth with clams, taters & onion. And, on top got floated a piece of butter and .....cracked pepper only on top...not in it! I do like legals chowda, but a true old fashioned broth/cream can get piping hot and its awesome. (I do concede you need a thicker chowda if you want to do a bread bowl concept)