During a short stay working an event in Annapolis recently, I was reminded of the pleasures of fried shellfish. I have fond memories of the various clam shacks of Maine, the ones that seem to dot the harbor in every community (like the ticket booth in a parking lot "you've had your fried littlenecks and lobster roll, you can go now"), or, growing up on Lake Michigan, the springtime ritual of fried smelts. (Small fish that are literally scooped out of the water and tossed into a caldron of hot oil on the beach, destined to be washed down with merely some hot sauce and canned beer.) My stay in Maryland didn't allow me much free time, but the time I had involved a healthy amount, or unhealthy if you want to be picky, of fried oysters and crab at the various seafood dives walking distance from my hotel. It got me thinking about how people rightfully associate things like morels or asparagus as the culinary rite of spring, but forget about the fried oysters and clams. After a long winter of oysters on the half shell or chowder, I can't help but celebrate the spring thaw with those same raw materials breaded and fried. In the spirit of that here's my recipe for a simple cornmeal breading that's perfect for all types of shellfish.
Cornmeal Breading for Fried Shellfish
Quantity Produced: 2 Qts.
Flour 5 Cups
Cornmeal, Fine 2 Cups
Cornstarch ½ Box (about 1 Cup)
Seasoning Salt ¼ Cup
Garlic or Onion Powder 3 Tablespoons
Mix thoroughly. Keep in a cool, dry place.