Geoduck–The Next Culinary Trend?
I’ve always been fascinated by strange-looking food and been brave enough to try things that aren’t typically thought of as mainstream American fare. Perhaps it comes from my Filipino side of the family and being exposed to things like pickled pigs feet and watching my mom eat balut (a Filipino delicacy that is an egg containing a fertilized duck embryo).
The latest food fad in the Pacific Northwest appears to be geoduck (pronounced GOOEY-duck), a giant clam that looks more like the male genitalia than something to cook with. The phallically-shaped bivalve is the largest and longest of the clam species weighs in at nearly two pounds and has a crop cycle of about six years.
Geoduck is popping up at restaurants and seafood shops all over the state. KING 5 recently broadcasted a story featuring Olympic Mountain Ice Cream that used the ingredient in ice cream. (Author’s note: although I have not yet personally tried the geoduck ice cream, the company has more than 30 flavors of ice cream that are sold in several Puget Sound retailers as well as produces a sweet and refreshing lavender honey flavor sold at the Sequim Lavender Festival each summer that I have tried, and is wonderful). Robert Irvine was once forced to make a Geoduck and Mushroom salad on an episode of Dinner: Impossible. And there are a growing number of Seattle restaurants that use the item regularly on their menus.
So, why is a seemingly ugly,unappetizing, and quite frankly, freaky ingredient making its way onto our plates?
Maybe its the fact that their size can produce a lot of servings per bivalve. Maybe its because like most shellfish, it’s low in saturated fat and a good source of protein. Or maybe people are becoming more adventurous with their food.
I decided to find out for the latter reason. As we were driving home from a business conference this week, my husband and I decided to stop by Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, to try a bowl of geoduck clam chowder.
Overall, I was rather disappointed with the chowder. It was a hearty, stew with many colorful diced ingredients: potatoes, carrots, celery and generous amounts of cracked black pepper, I found very little geoduck. The geoduck chunks were so tiny, I at first thought they were chunks of potato. The geoduck had a surprisingly un-clam-like texture–soft and silky instead of the firm and chewy, chunky texture I’d expect from clams in razor clam chowders from the Washington coast. (side note: I spent several years as a reporter in Ocean Shores sampling varieties of chowder restaurants use to compete in its Razor Clam Festival) The little geoduck chunks that I were able to find, did not have the fishy, seafood flavor I’ve come to expect from chowder. In fact, the geoduck hardly had any flavor at all. Although the broth was a bit too thin for my preferance of chowder, allowed the flavors of the other components to come through nicely, just not the geoduck.
So I’m kind of reluctant to try it in other forms–in salad, fried, steamed, in ice cream. I NEED YOUR FEEDBACK, DEAR READERS.
Is this the way geoduck is supposed to taste? What’s your favorite way to eat geoduck? Who serves the best geoduck in the Puget Sound? Got any recipes to share? Post your recommendations in the comments below.