Please get your head out of the gutter before we proceed. Just kidding. But really, were you thinking, “OMG! What on earth is she holding and why?!” 🙂
Well, for those of you that aren’t familiar with this obscene-looking creature, it is known as a geoduck. Despite the spelling, which may seem rather counterintuitive, geoduck is actually pronounced “gooey-duck,” a Lushootseed (Native American) word meaning “dig deep.” This member of the clam family is also known as King Clam because it is the largest burrowing clam in the world. Geoducks are found only in the American Pacific Northwest and in Western Canada. They are long-lived (that is, unless I eat them), averaging 146 years. They are the clams that America actually exports to China and Japan.
If you like eating clams and oysters, then you will enjoy the taste of geoduck, which is by far sweeter and richer than any other variety. The siphon (neck) has a delicate, crunchy texture, while the mantle (body situated in the shell) resembles the taste of oysters when fried. Asian cuisine not only focuses on the taste of foods, but also the texture. Thus, when you go to an authentic Chinese restaurant (not Pei Wei), you will see such items as sea cucumber and jellyfish on the menu. All these seemingly strange things are considered delicacies to be enjoyed for special occasions, such as weddings.
Speaking of special occasions, my brother-in-law invited my husband and I to go blow his newly deposited bonus check on geoduck at a local Chinese restaurant a few weeks ago. Looking at the menu, the going rate of geoduck was $42/pound. He wanted the 4 pounder that day. I looked at him with beads of sweat forming on my forehead. Then I politely confirmed he was paying for the meal. I thought to myself, “why in the world would anyone want to spend $168 on a darn clam?” Then the clam came out, all fancied up in 2 separate dishes– one was geoduck sashimi, and the other was fried geoduck fritters. Oh heavens! It was beyond amazing! And $350 later, we went home. He spent his bonus check, and we were all happy and full.
So the moral of that story if there is one is this, try geoduck if you have the opportunity, but get someone else to pay. I’m kidding again. But seriously, try geoduck, but there is a way to eat it without having to spend $168 on a clam. If you live in the bigger cities with a Chinatown, most of these places will carry geoducks live in aquariums. Although still pricey, its definitely not $42/pound.
I was able to buy geoduck here in Houston for $14.99/pound. For a 3-pounder, it only cost me $45–a fraction of what the restaurant would’ve charged.
So with this geoduck, I will be showing everyone how to make geoduck sashimi, as well as crispy geoduck fritters. Ready? Let’s do this!
- Pot of water
- whole geoduck, rinsed clean
- 3-inch knob of fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ice water bath
- sharp knife
1. Fill a pot big enough to fit the geoduck in with enough water to cover. Clean and cut a 3-inch knob of ginger into slices. No need to peel the ginger, unless you’re OCD. The slices can be any size or shape because they will be discarded afterwards. The ginger serves to take away any fishy smell/ taste from the clam. Place the ginger slices into the pot of water.
2. Bring the pot of water with the ginger slices to a rolling boil. Add kosher salt. Place the whole geoduck into the boiling water and blanch it for exactly 20 seconds. Any longer than this, and you will find yourself gnawing on what resembles the consistency of rubber bands. Not appetizing. Believe me, I’ve eaten rubber bands as a child, but that’s another story for another day.
3. After 20 seconds, remove the geoduck from the boiling water and place into the ice bath. This will stop the geoduck from cooking any further. When geoduck is cool to the touch, remove from the ice bath and place the geoduck onto a cutting board.
4. Pry open the shell and remove the geoduck in its entirety to reveal the mantle (the body). With a sharp knife, separate the siphon (long neck) from the mantle. There should be a demarcation where the firm neck meets the soft body. Cut at that spot. Set the mantle aside. We will use that later to make fritters. Place the siphon onto the cutting board.
5. Now with your sharp knife, cut the neck into very thin slices against the grain in a diagonal fashion. This will allow the sashimi to be crunchy, yet easily chewable. Place the slices on a plate and sprinkle some fresh lemon juice on top if desired. You can dip in soy sauce or a combo of soy/minced ginger or soy/wasabi for the best taste experience!
Crispy Geoduck Fritters:
- Geoduck mantle (soft body inside the shell)
- 1 beaten egg, mixed with 1 teaspoon water
- Japanese panko crumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peanut oil for frying
1. Before starting, remove the visceral ball from the mantle. This is the golfball sized mass that sits inside the mantle. Some chefs like to use it to sweeten up stocks, but I tend to just toss it. Take the mantle and slice into 1/2″ to 1″ thick slices.
2. Pat the mantle slices dry with a paper towel, and proceed to place slices into the egg mixture. Cover slices well with egg. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place panko crumbs into a ziplock bag or paper bag. Place mantle slices into the bag of crumbs and coat each slice well.
4. Heat oil to 375 degrees in a deep fryer or pot of oil. Place slices into oil, working in small batches to prevent sticking. Fry geoduck for about 2-3 minutes, or until panko is a light golden brown. Drain fritters on paper towels and enjoy dipped in cocktail sauce or any dip of your choice. These fritters taste very much like fried oysters!
So now you know how to make both geoduck sashimi, as well as crispy fried geoduck fritters. Not paying $168 here! 😉