July 27, 2006
Vacation on a plate
Can’t get to the beach? Get that lobster roll without leaving town
By Susan Reilly firstname.lastname@example.org
For some people, the heat of summer means fried clams and lobster rolls.
People lined up in front of beach side shacks are not waiting for chicken tenders and hamburgers, but white hotdog buns filled with lobster meat lightly mixed with mayonnaise or fried clams served with a side of coleslaw and tarter sauce.
“In the summer, we sell tons and tons of lobster rolls,” said Jen McGrathy, manager at Lobster Claw II in Derry. She estimates that during a hot week the beach-like shack at the traffic circle sells hundreds of rolls, followed closely by fried clams.
“People tie in hot weather with fried clams and lobster rolls. Once it gets hot, that is all everyone wants,” she said.
When the craving hits, and there is no chance to get to the beach, local restaurants will do the trick.
In Manchester, Fish n’ Kebob sells fried whole belly clams with a side of homemade coleslaw.
“Everybody wants clams in the summer,” said owner and chef Mildad Khouyi. “And since we are all about seafood here, we sell a lot of them.”
Khouyi treats the whole belly clams simply — she washes out the sand, soaks in milk and then dredges in her secret batter mix before frying.
Many menus feature both fried whole belly and clam strips. There is a big price difference between the two with whole belly often costing considerably more.
Writer Henry David Thoreau wrote in the mid 1800s about cooking clams over burning paper on a Cape Cod beach and eating them with relish. He noted that although tough, the clam was both savory and sweet, and that the addition of a cracker would have been nice.
Sounds like the idea for the first fried clam and tarter sauce.
The whole belly clam’s cousin, the clam strip, is often misunderstood. It’s thought by many to be excess trimmed away from whole belly clams that may otherwise have been discarded but this is not true.
In fact, clam strips are slices from the foot of large sea clams (also known as surf clams or skimmer clams).
While the regular clam (used for whole belly fried clams) is about two inches long and harvested from sand bars, large sea clams are roughly nine inches long and can be harvested from the shoreline to 120 feet below sea.
Clams have been on menus for centuries, but clam strips, according to the Web site www.weloveclams.com, have only been on menus for 75 years.
They were created by an Ipswich, Mass., clamdigger named Thomas Soffron. The story goes that Soffron was a picky eater and did not care for the clam’s belly. He only ate the strip from the large clam, which he could sanitize.
Soffron began selling his fried clam strips around Ipswich and when he by chance met a young Howard Johnson who was getting his business rolling, the rest is culinary history.
Lobster rolls are another favorite. It seems that even penny pinching folks are willing to open their wallets in the summer for a lobster roll filled with nothing but lobster meat and a bit of mayonnaise.
Jasper White, famed Boston chef and owner of the Summer Shack, once said that for a lobster roll to be good, do nothing to it because the meat stands alone. He also noted that nothing beats a Nissan hot dog roll. He had experimented with artisnal breads and kept coming back to the plain old white roll.
With everyone trying to cash in on the lobster craving that summer brings — major fast food chains hanging “lobster is back’ signs outside — don’t believe that fresh one place is the same as fresh at another.
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They dig clams
Besides the coast, where can you go to get a plate of fried clams or a lobster roll?
• Tinkers Seafood (545 Hooksett Rd, Manchester, 622-4272): fried whole clams plate ($14.29/$17.69); strip clams ($8.99); lobster roll ($11.79).
• Fish n’ Kebob (171 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-6009): fried whole belly clams ($9.99).
• Weathervane (393 Route 101, Bedford, 472-2749; 174 DW Highway, Nashua, 891-1776): fried clam strips ($9.95); fried whole clams (priced daily); fried sea scallops ($13.95); lobster roll ($13.45).
• Lobster Claw II (4 South Main St., Derry, 437-2720): fried clam or scallop boat ($9.50/12.95/20.95); lobster roll ($14.50); fried clam roll ($6.95).
• Newicks (696 DW Highway, Merrimack, 429-0262): fried whole clam roll (priced daily); fried clam strip roll ($6.99); lobster roll (priced daily).
• Lobster Tail Seafood (Windham,888-531-TAIL): native fried clams ($16.95); fried clam strips ($9.95).
• Milford Fish Market (309 Nashua St., Milford, 673-4200): fried clams ($11.95/$14.95); fried clam sub ($10.95); lobster roll ($10.95).
• Brothers Pizza (6 Willow St., Manchester, 668-7333): fried sea scallops ($14.99).
• Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118): clam strip dinner ($6.99).
• Boston Chowda Co. (614 Nashua St., Milford, 249-9259): lobster roll ($7.19 to 13.19).
• Grand Slam Pizza (331 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 606-4244): clam strips ($6.95); fried scallops ($10.95).
• Surf (207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293): fried sweet clams (priced daily).
• Poor Boy’s Diner (136 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 432-8990): fried clam strip platter ($12.95); fried clam platter ($16.95); lobster roll ($9.95).
• Commercial Street Fishery (33 S. Commercial St., Manchester, 296-0706): fried clams ($18); sampler platter for 2 –clams, oysters, haddock and shrimp ($34).
• Suzie’s Diner (76 Lowell Road, Hudson, 883-2741): fried clam strips ($5.95); fried scallops ($8.95).
• Cremeland Drive In (250 Valley St., Manchester, 669-4430): fried clams ($8.75-27.50); lobster roll ($10.25)
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