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May 16, 2007 08:31 PM

Howard Johnson style fried clams?

My favorite food as a child was Howard Johnson's fried clams. Since over the years 99.9% of them have closed, I am hoping that I might be able to find a good imitation on our trip to Boston and Maine next month. Am I dreaming? Any recommendations?

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  1. Woodman's in Essex has the fried strips with no belles

    5 Replies
    1. re: tamerlanenj

      I'm from Michigan. What do you mean by "no belles"?

      1. re: SASSYMI2

        I think Tamerlanenj meant "no bellies"... the fried clams you get here contain the clam "belly" as well, not just a fried strip of rubber. (I'm from Michigan as well).

        1. re: Prav

          Howard Johnson served the fried clam strips, a hard, chewy fried item that is nothing like the fried clams that you would get in New England. The whole clams have bellies, which are soft, sweet and pulpy - delicious. You can order just the strips in some places. Ask first, but beware of looks of disbelief. Most of us up here are purists when it comes to our fried clams!

          1. re: greenstate

            I loved the Howard Johnson clams growing up and also the real clams we went out for (clams and lobster were the only fish I'd eat for years). I've actually had some strips that seem like real clams next to those Hojo's ones. I think it was at Farnham's where a friend ordered the strips and I have to say, I enjoyed them.

      2. What you want are called "Clam strips" not "fried clams"
        Plenty of places offer them here.
        Actually a clam strip is not just a fried clam with no belly. Its usually a very large quahaug that has been sliced up into thin strips.

        1. According to Jacques P├ępin, Howard Johnson's fried clams were actually "made from the tongues of enormous sea clams whose bodies were used as the base for the restaurants' famous clam chowder." This from a story by him in the NY Times (Apr. 28, 2005) recounting his sojourn in the HJ commissary in Queens around 1960, shortly after his arrival in the US. Pierre Franey worked with him there. Unlikely as it may sound, he regarded the experience as an invaluable part of his training.

          7 Replies
          1. I had always heard it referred to as the "foot" of the surf or sea clam, and just assumed it was like geoduck, which is delicious when cut up and fried, like they do at Peach Farm Seafood.

            1. re: Rubee

              Holy cow, I just looked up geoduck on wikipedia. That thing is freaky. Is Pepin talking about a Giant Clam?

              1. re: tamerlanenj

                Somewhere 9Lives has pics posted on the end result - both sashimi and fried from Peach Farm. That monster was 4 1/2 pounds.

              2. re: Rubee

                omg have you ever had geoduck sushi? It is awesome, I only had it once and was so shocked at how delicate it was.. but I cannot find it locally.

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                  Peach Farm in Chinatown has it. Usually East Ocean City too..probably any of the Cantonese live tank seafood places.. you need to buy the whole clam.

                  I've seen it in many sushi bars around the piece.

                  Here's a pic from a recent dinner...


                  1. re: 9lives

                    i have had ducks at East Ocean though I do not think that it was available the last few times i have been there.

                    They are pretty expensive; maybe in the day, they were cheap enough to be used for clam strips at HoJos.

                    But even as a kid, my parents ate lobster regularly, but they were pretty expensive in Chicago. but I never had a geoduck until I lived on the West Coast.

                  2. re: gryphonskeeper

                    Fugakyu can get it for you. i did an omakase there that featured several parts of the giant clam and it was awesome.

              3. most places have strips or whole clams fried. Royal Roast Beef and Seafood in Eastie which serves up a very hot fresh and tasty fried clam has the choice. I'm a belly-girl myself, so I cannot vouch for the strips. Doesn't Friendly's also serve the strips?

                6 Replies
                1. re: eLizard

                  Has anyone but me ever wondered where the bellies from all the clam strips go??? I am surprised no one has ever come up with a "bellies Only" fried clam plate,,,,,,yummy!

                  1. re: MeffaBabe

                    If you read above, you will see that clam strips are not whole clams without the bellies. They are in fact sliced quahog, or sea clams as HoJo's used to call them.
                    I hope you find your bellies only fried clams. Sounds good to me.

                    1. re: CocoDan

                      I suspect that once you cut the non-belly part of the clam off you'd risk the contents of the belly oozing out. Besides, I like the contrast of the chewy strip part with the more flavorful, tender belly.

                      1. re: BobB

                        The clam strips are completely different from the whole belly noted above, the strips are cut up larger sea clams....not by removing bellies from "whole clams."

                        Fried, whole belly clams are made by using "soft shelled" clams..or the same clams that you get if you order "steamers."

                        1. re: 9lives

                          As has been stated here by a couple of Hounds,clam strips are produced from a very large east-coast native; the Atlantic Surf Clam (Spisula solidissima).They're also commercially processed into chowders, bisques & clam sauces. Often, after on-shore blowing storms you can find them tossed-up onto beaches thru out New England,especially in R.I.

                          BTW, make mine soft shelled bellied clams :-)

                    2. re: MeffaBabe

                      i think the bellies are processed into 'Clam Base."

                  2. If you want the real thing, there appear to be 3 HOJO locations left . Bangor, ME, Lake George and Lake Placid.....

                    Even though I am a whole belly gal, I still have fond memories of those Hojo's clams. We used to go on Wed or Fri nights for the "all you can eat Fish Fry". My god we'd put away alot of those clams!!!!