Eataly’s Dave Pasternack Loves the Summer Shack’s Crisp Clams

The improbably plump clams at the Summer Shack.
The improbably plump clams at the Summer Shack. Photo: Art Aulenback

On each edition of the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last time, Pizzeria Mozza’s pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez praised chef Dave Pasternack’s branzino al forno. And now we want to know what Pasternack has adored of late. Take it away, Dave.

“I always like the fried clams at the Summer Shack in Boston. They’re fresh, they’re clean, they’re not greasy, they’re crisp. I did a thing a couple of years ago with Ed Levine where we went around and checked out fried clam shacks all over New England, and a lot of them didn’t use any seasoning. These taste really good; the bellies aren’t too big, the bellies aren’t too small.”

And now, the Summer Shack’s Jasper White reveals the secrets of his Botox-plump clams:

“It really is all about the clam. We buy the belly clams, and we buy the ones grown in mud flats in Essex and Ipswich, Massachusetts. The ones that grow in mud flats have a richer flavor. Then we dip them in buttermilk. We have a breading that’s ours — I can’t tell you everything in it — corn flour and a little bit of cornmeal. And it’s that simple. We fry it very hot, like 375 degrees, in clean canola oil. We change the oil all the time, and we never bread the clams ahead of time — we bread them right before they go into the fryer — and we use really fresh clams that just can’t be beat.”