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Masa harina for fried clams?

I run the kitchen at a small seafood/burger shack on the south shore of Nova Scotia. We are adding fried soft-shell clams to the menu next week, and I see that a lot of recipes call for flour and masa harina (aka maseca or corn flour). Anyone know why this is added to fried foods? I see it is used in fried chicken recipes as well. Does it add to the crispiness? Add to the color?

Just lookin for a few pointers. Also, if anyone could direct me to their favorite fried clam recipe, that would be great!


That recipe looks great. However, I am still wondering exactly why does it call for half masa harina and half AP flour? I have been making them at home with just AP flour and they never taste like when I go out to my favorite clam shack. My goal is to be my new favorite clam shack so any help would be great!

1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer


    For the new england-style fry mix Try this recipe it should turn out great! Crispy and flavorful!

    1 cup corn flour (or masa harina)

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    For the clams

    1 1/2 pounds of shucked whole-belly steamer clams

    About 6 cups peanut, canola, or other vegetable oil, for deep-frying

    1 cup buttermilk

    New England-Style Fry Mix (above)


    Make the new england style fry mix

    1. Combine the flours, salt, and both peppers in a large mixing bowl and mix well. You’ll have more than you need for this recipe, so whatever is left over you can store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for several weeks or more.

    Fry the clams

    2. In many cases, you will be frying in batches to avoid the problems that can happen if you overcrowd your fryer. In anticipation of this, line a baking sheet with paper towels and preheat the oven to 250ºF (121°C).

    3. Heat 3 inches of oil to the desired temperature in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat or in a deep fryer.

    4. While the oil is heating, pour the buttermilk into a large bowl, and put the fry mix in another. Drop the clams into the buttermilk and stir gently. Using a Chinese wire-mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, carefully lift up a small batch (in this case, about half of the clams you’re frying), allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into bowl, then drop the clams into the fry mix and gently toss it to coat evenly with the mix. Quickly dry off the skimmer.

    5. When the oil is hot, lift the food out of the fry mix with the skimmer, gently shake off the excess, and drop it carefully into the oil. Try to spread the food out in the pot so there is less chance of the pieces sticking to each other. The first few moments are crucial: let the seafood cook for 15 to 20 seconds without moving the clams (or the fryer basket)—if you do, some of the breading could fall off, making the dish greasy. Then stir the clams so that it cooks evenly. This also helps to loosen any pieces that might have stuck together. If anything sticks to the bottom of the pot, loosen it with tongs. Stay right there at the fryer, moving the seafood occasionally so it cooks evenly.

    6. Transfer the first batch of clams from the hot oil to the paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. You can keep the clams warm in the oven while you fry the second batch, but with clams or oysters, you should consider serving them as soon as they have drained. Because they are whole creatures with wet innards, they tend to lose their crunch faster than shrimp, scallops, and other seafood. Set the food on a plate or platter and send it to the table with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs–and fries aren’t out of the question. [Ed. note: A side of salad, as in the picture, is hardly traditional, but it makes for a pretty plate, right?] A nice casual, and very appropriate, touch when serving fried foods is to serve it on deli paper or butcher’s paper. We serve most of our fried foods on colorful deli paper printed with our logo—the paper isn’t really intended to soak up excess oil, it’s more to show off how greasy it isn’t.

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