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Mar 10, 2008 01:47 PM

clam cakes? Definition?

I'm a recent New England inhabiter, and someone not from here asked me if I had tried and clam cakes as of yet. I must admit, I have not seen clam cakes on a menu since I've been here. Am I just going to places that don't serve this dish? Is it an authentic New England staple?

Or, I was thinking maybe he meant clam bellies. I'm feeling a little dense. Maybe I'm going to the wrong places for seafood.

When I hear clam cakes, I think of something like crab cakes: clams, tossed with herbs and bread crumbs (maybe some egg or other "binder" and then sauteed or fried in a pan. That is right up my alley, so, if anyone can recommend a place that sells 'em like that, I'm in!

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  1. it is a fritter maded with minced clams, clam juice and batter. Sreved as a finger food, more common in ht esummer months and sold at coastal restaurants or clam shacks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sean

      Closely related to conch fritters as found in Florida.

    2. I have only seen clam cakes in Rhode Island, where they are abundant, along with clear clam chowder (my favorite style). A clam cake is more a fritter than a crab cake-style snack; I would compare them to a beignet, or a sort of clam Dunkin Munchkin. A ball of dough with chunks of clam in it, fried until crispy on the outside and soft and steamy on the inside, with big hunks of clam. Don't know where in New England you are, but if you ever find yourself in Galillee/Narragansett RI, there's a bunch of clam shacks right off the Block Island ferry. Try there. Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: ctscorp

        Okay, I've had those before. I didn't know they were called clam cakes. They aren't kidding. It really is CAKE. ha!

        Thanks for the clarification.

        I'm a little disappointed. I think a clam prepared like crab cakes are would be awesome.

      2. I love clam cakes- the fritter type. WE were served something called clam cakes at Harraseeket Lobster and Lunch in Freeport Maine that were more like something you describe- more flat like crabcakes. Not my cup of tea but probably m ore like what you are looking for.

        14 Replies
        1. re: emilief

          The flat clam cake seems to be a Maine-specific thing. The fritter-type clam cakes are much better, IMO, although it's more of a street food thing than something you'd sit down to eat.

          1. re: laurmb

            You know, though, also in RI is the stuffie, which is kind of like a crab cake-style clam cake crammed into a clamshell... a little more bread than a crab cake, perhaps, and sometimes with melted cheese on 'em, but essentially the same thing. Maybe that's what you're looking for? I've got easy recipes if you've got a glut of quahogs!

            1. re: ctscorp

              that sounds awesome, cts..I'd love the recipe. I have a great resource for fresh clams.

              1. re: wineaux73

                Okay... I have to comment on the irony here, though: I'm a displaced New Englander living in Iowa, and I can't get fresh clams out here to save my soul. So make these and toss one westward for me if you will!
                When we made them at the RI restaurant I worked at, it was in huge proportions, and it was all about how they felt/tasted. So. Steam open, say 12 quahogs (biggest clams you can find) in about an inch of water. Separate clams and pull out the meat, saving shells. Strain the broth and save that, too. Saute maybe half a large onion and some garlic and celery in butter. Pulse this, with clams, in a food processor. Add stale bread and broth, s & p and some hot sauce until there's a: enough bulk to restuff 6 clam halves; and b: it's meatball consistency, ie formable and moist but not mushy. Put one wad in each half shell; top with jack cheese and bake until cheese is melted and clam mixture is golden & crispy. 10 minutes? This is where it gets good: I have seen these with chourico or other Portuguese sausage, fresh corn, farmers' market basil, white wine... once you get the basics down, you can mix in whatever you want, just like with a crab cake. Also, some online recipes call for tying the shells together with twine and baking them in a firepit, which would probably be delicious but was never something we did on Block Island....

                1. re: ctscorp

                  Ahhhh....LOVE Stuffies (stuffed quahogs), especially spicy with diced chourico, onions and peppers and a couple of dashes of Tabasco and a squirt of lemon to finish them off...


                  1. re: ctscorp

                    I have to jump in with love for the stuffed quahogs. They aren't, to me, like crab cakes so much as oyster stuffing at Thanksgiving. They are a little mushier and oh so good. I also worked on BI btw (Ballards), but can't remember every having them there, oddly enough. We used to get them at restaurants or in small groceries in southeastern MA, where we lived.

                    1. re: laurmb

                      Wow, this looks so good. Thanks so very much! I'm making them this weekend for a dinner party. After the first go, I'm going to add the sausage to it.

                      I spent a great deal of time in BI as a kid. My dad loved to fish and he would leave the rest of the fam. on the island all day, then we'd moor our boat w/ his fisherman buddies just off shore and cook everything they made on the boats, passing platters back and forth.
                      I WISH someone had made these!


                      1. re: laurmb

                        Finn's fish market sold them It was my job, as the college student who was mired in fish guts all day, to make them. If I was really good, Ruthie, the prep cook, would give me an extra piece of cheese to eat all for myself. Made me feel like Shirley Temple up there in her attic... except mine was a basement....

                        1. re: ctscorp

                          Do you happen to remember the recipe. Someone gave me a recipe years ago, but it's just not the same - too heavy. I would love to have a recipe like the clam cakes cooked on Block Island.

                  2. re: ctscorp

                    I'm a Rhode Islander, and I've NEVER seen cheese on a stuffie. (As someone in a later post notes, put lemon and Tobasco sauce on them.) And BTW I'll take clam cakes over crabcakes every time. There's nothing better than fried dough with quahogs.

                    1. re: ccferg

                      The only place I ever saw it was Finn's on BI, where I made it... and they swore by it. But then, they also called milkshakes cabinets, and BI's a bit weird anyway.... BTW, there are several recipes for stuffies online that have cheese -- of several different varieties -- on them. I think it, like many New England seafood discrepancies, is a regional thing.

                      1. re: ctscorp

                        I guess I agree with Mario and other Italians that cheese and seafood don't mix very well. The idea of cheese in a stuffie sounds nauseating to me. But the "cabinet" is definitely an RI thing. I never called it anything else until I went to the U of Wisconsin and they had no idea what I was talking about. (In R.I. a cabinet had ice cream in it and a milk shake traditionally didn't.)

                        1. re: ccferg

                          I just signed up and was reading the blogs here for clam cakes and was about to weigh in when I saw the info on "cabinet". If that is what I think it is, we called them Frappes. Ice cream, milk and flavored syrup mixed in a tall metal cup.
                          As for the clam cakes, I volunteered each year at a clam cake booth at the Woodstock Fair in CT where we made clam cakes. We always had a very long line and there were always customers who were from out of NE and were trying them for the first time. Folding the batter, as a previous reply stated is the key to light and airy cakes.
                          As a boy we would make our annual trip from CT to Rocky Point Park. In addition to enjoying all the park had to offer in the way of amusement rides and games, the culmination was a visit to the Pavillion for clam cakes and chowder "chowda". Great memories! Oh, and whole bellies are the best. Try telling someone out of NE about clam cakes and whole bellies and you get the alien look, lol.

                    2. re: ctscorp

                      Stuffies NEVER EVER EVER have cheese on them. Heresy of the highest order.
                      Tabasco and lemon, with your favorite summer beverage and its a great day....

                      The best description I ever heard of a stuffie (and i think it was on this board somewhere) was a "clam meatloaf in an ashtray".

                  1. Now to really throw some chum on the water. Best clamcakes--Iggy's or Aunt Carries?

                    1 Reply