s which have been shucked, dipped in either batter
, and deep fried
. You eat them out of a cardboard boat and dunk them in lots of tartar sauce
. Good ones will have an ideal coating-to-clam ratio that allows you to taste, in sequence and very distinctly, the sharp, pickly-creamy tartar sauce, the salty, crisp coating, and the sweet, oceany, slightly chewy but not dried out clam. Infidels
dunk their clams in ketchup
Fried clams should generally be eaten outside. You should purchase them at a small roadside institution called a clam shack, which will sell nothing but deep fried seafood, french fries, onion rings, coleslaw, and possibly steamed clams, lobster, and corn on the cob. You can find these places in coastal New England and, very occasionally, a little further down the eastern seaboard. They are only open in the summer. In a pinch, or in the winter, I will get fried clams at Cap'n Newick's, a goofy tourist attraction and seafood barn with a location in South Portland, which also has excellent onion rings.
Real fried clams cannot be found at Howard Johnson's, which sells an inadequate fried clam substitute product called "fried clam strips," which consist of the clams with the good part removed, the good part being the "belly," the large, round, soft-ish bit with all the flavor. Some people like the fried clams at Legal Seafood, a Boston-based restaurant chain with branches in several surrounding states. Since I haven't tried them, I can't comment.
It is nearly impossible to find real fried clams in New York City, where some deprived and pining urbanites refer to them as "belly clams," a retronym if there ever was one. There are probably some places in Brooklyn that sell them (Nathan's comes to mind, but I think they just sell clam strips), but I wouldn't bother. Fried clams are pretty much a New England thing.