If you've ever wondered about that monstrous, phallic-looking clam, you've come to the right place. Here, you'll learn all about the Pacific Geoduck and whether or not it's the right choice for you.
What is a Geoduck?
The geoduck is a saltwater clam in the Hiatellidae family, native to the Northwestern coasts of the U.S. and Canada. And they live for a long time; the oldest geoduck ever recorded was 168 years old.
They are easily recognizable thanks to their extremely long siphon. Some have compared them to elephant trunks or something a little more phallic, if you know what I'm saying. Their siphons, or necks, can grow up to three feet long, aka baseball bat length.
They are the world's largest burrowing clam. In fact, when they're young, they dig a hole several feet into the ground and live there for the rest of their lives. Talk about lazy.
So, how do they eat if they spend their whole lives underground? Although they burrow several feet in the ground, their siphon sticks out like the barrel of a rifle.
There are two holes in their siphon: one to suck in phytoplankton and one to release excess water. Pretty handy, huh?
The gooey duck clam is a huge industry on the coast, though most farmers ship their harvest to Southeast Asia. This multimillion-dollar industry sends 90% of all Pacific Geoducks to Asia, where a pound of clams can sell for up to $200.
Geoduck is pronounced "gooey-duck."
The word is derived from the Nisqually term, gweduc, meaning "dig deep." The geoducks were called this originally due to their extreme burrowing capacities.
Can You Eat Geoduck?
Yes, yes you can. And people like it! So, don't let their interesting appearance turn you off.
Actually, the Pacific geoduck is an aphrodisiac in many Asian countries, hence its regional popularity. Not only do people love the flavor and texture, they also love the alleged effects. The more you know!
How to Eat Geoduck
There are several ways to eat geoduck clams. So long as they're cleaned and blanched, you can eat them raw. This is actually one of the most popular options. Geoduck sashimi for the win!
Or, you could sauté these gooey duck clams, marinate them for ceviche, or throw them in a hot pot. Check out the recipes below for more ideas.
What Does Geoduck Taste Like?
Unlike some other clams, geoduck doesn't taste fishy at all. Many reviewers have noted its unique sweet flavor. Not brine-y or salty. Think of clams, but much sweeter.
Geoducks can be very tender when cooked right. As is often the case with clams, their texture is slightly rubbery. However, several chefs love their snappy texture, meaning they have a good bite to them. Chow down!
The geoduck is the sweetest clam out there. If you think scallops are sweet and clear, then you're in for a delicious surprise.
How to Clean a Geoduck (prior to eating/cooking)
First things first, make sure your geoduck is alive and well.
Next, you will bring a pot to boil and blanch the clam for six to eight seconds.
After it cools, cut the siphon and body free from the shell. Get rid of those internal organs and the shell, reserving the body and siphon.
Now, this is the fun part: pull off the skin of the siphon, starting from the body. It should come off in one piece, like pantyhose or a long sock.
Finally, you will rinse out the cavity, cut down the middle of the siphon, and wash it thoroughly to remove all sand.
Different Ways to Cook Geoduck
There are so many different ways to cook and enjoy geoduck. There's something for everyone here, whether you like sushi, ceviche, or chowder.
#1 Sashimi (raw)
For all of my sushi lovers out there, these recipes are for you. Blanching and eating geoducks raw brings out their natural sweetness.
Now, I know there's nothing better than hot clam chowder on a cold, winter's day. And that's a fact. These recipes substitute your average clams for the sweet Pacific Geoduck.
Sautéed geoduck can be either sweet or spicy, mild or hot. It's that versatile! Here are a few recipes that have wildly different ideas on what to do with the Pacific Geoduck.
Marinated seafood and acidic citrus in its finest form. The natural sweetness of Pacific Geoduck makes for an excellent ceviche.
#5 Hot Pot & Soups
For those craving something a little warmer, try any of these soup-based recipes.
Tested Geoduck Food Pairings
Butter, lemon, salt, soy, ponzu, ginger, wasabi...the list goes on and on and on. Really, the question is what doesn't geoduck go well with?
If you're a beginner, I'd start with browned butter and wine--think moules marinières or lobster.
Or, you could even fry them! Who else ate clam strips growing up?
Geoduck and sea cucumber always pair nicely together due to their crunchy quality. You could also enhance their snappy texture by adding cucumber, fennel, radish, or celery.
How Much Does Geoduck Cost?
Geoduck clams are definitely a specialty item in the U.S. and a delicacy elsewhere. A pound of the Pacific Geoduck goes for $20-30 in the U.S and up to $150-200 per pound in China. That's three times as expensive as foie gras!
Where to Buy Geoduck
The best of the best is fresh from the water in Puget Sound. However, for those who can't make the trip, there are plenty of online retailers out there.
You can order them from Taylor Shellfish Farms, the biggest geoduck retailer, online for $60 per case. They're sure to spice up your next dinner party!
Gaper Clam vs Geoduck
The gaper clam, also called the horseneck clam, is the geoduck's cousin from Oregon! They're burrower clams and filter-feeders, just like their geoduck brethren. However, they tend to share their small shells with gaper pea crabs in a symbiotic, roommate situation.
Geoducks have larger siphons than gaper clams, but both clams are unable to fit their entire siphon in their shell. Literally too big for their britches.
Unlike the geoduck, gaper clams have a leathery flap on the tip of their siphon, and they're reportedly less tasty.
Some restaurants will use gaper clams instead of geoduck since they look so similar, so be careful out there!
What is a Geoduck Siphon?
The siphon acts as the neck and filtration system of the clam. It is attached to the body but sticks out of the shell. They can grow up to three feet long and provide nutrients for the clam!
The siphon features two holes. They filter and eat phytoplankton through one and release excess water through the other. Because of this, Geoducks are known to vastly improve water quality.
The siphon is often eaten raw in sashimi or sushi.
There you have it! The Geoduck, also known as the gooey duck clam, is a delicious, strange, and funky clam from the Northwestern coast of the U.S.
If you manage to get your hands on some, try one of the recipes above and let us know what you think.