Growing up, there was a park on the water outside of Providence, Rhode Island, called Rocky Point, and they used to serve the best clam fritters. When I ate beignets for the first time in New Orleans, I immediately thought of my childhood clam cakes and wondered how I could give beignets a savory turn. This recipe provides a foundation batter that you can vary as you choose; I’ve given you two variations in the box on page 48 to get you started. I particularly like making these with eggplant because it almost melts right into the batter.
Excerpted from Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen by Emeril Lagasse. Copyright © 2015 Emeril Lagasse dba MSLO Acquisition sub, LLC. Reprinted with permission from Oxmoor House, an imprint of Time Inc. Books. All rights reserved.
I use jumbo lump crabmeat so there will be big meaty chunks of crab throughout the fritters but regular lump crabmeat works fine.
To cook the corn, sauté it with a little butter and salt and pepper for a few minutes, or fire-roast ears of corn on the grill, then cut off the kernels.
Making An Emulsion
What is an emulsion? Remember your mom saying, oil and water don’t mix? Well, in an emulsion (which also includes things like hollandaise sauce and beurre blanc), oil and water are made to mix, with the help of another ingredient known as an emulsifier—in the case of mayonnaise, it’s an egg yolk.
1. Measure with precision: If you add too much liquid for the amount of oil being used, no matter how long you whisk, you will never achieve an emulsion.
2. Add the oil as slowly as possible, almost drop by drop in a steady stream if you can manage it, especially at the beginning. If you’re new to making mayonnaise or any emulsion, if you can get a friend or family member to add the oil while you whisk, that would be ideal—probably the hardest part of this process is adding the oil while you whisk at the same time.
3. Whisk vigorously and continuously. Remember, it is not natural for oil and water to mix—you need to make them go together by whisking the tar out of them.
4. You have an emulsion when, almost like magic, your mixture becomes thick and smooth.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn and cook, stirring as needed, for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cayenne together.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, hot sauce, and Worcestershire together to combine. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet into it. Combine gently with a whisk, then, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in the corn and crabmeat, taking care to not break up the lumps of crab.
Add enough oil to come halfway up the side of a deep-sided cast iron skillet or Dutch oven or to the fill line of an electric fryer and preheat to 325 degrees F.
Working in batches of 6 to 8 and using a 2-tablespoon scoop (like a melon baller or ice cream scoop), carefully drop the fritter batter into the oil. You don’t want the fritters browning too fast, so don’t allow the temperature of the oil to go higher than 325 degrees F or to drop below 300 degrees F; adjust the heat under the pot as needed. Cover the pot with a splatter screen or the vented top if using an electric fryer to protect you, as individual corn kernels will pop and fly if they make contact with the hot oil. As the fritters float to the top, roll them over in the hot oil to brown them evenly. When they are golden on all sides, which will take 5 to 6 minutes per batch, use tongs, a slotted spoon, or a spider to transfer them to paper towels to drain. Season with salt immediately so the salt sticks to the fritters, if desired. Repeat until you use up all the batter.
Serve hot with the Fresh Corn Mayo.
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and garlic and whisk vigorously to mix. Drizzling it in very, very slowly, add the oil while you whisk vigorously. Continue to add the oil in a very thin, steady stream, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and coalesces into an emulsion. If you have an emulsion but still have oil left, continue to add and whisk; the emulsion will get thicker and stiffer as you do.
Once you’ve got an emulsion and all of the oil has been added, stir in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate in an airtight container until needed and up to 3 days. Serve alongside the Crab and Corn Fritters.