Geoduck – you may be thinking “more like ‘eeeweyduck,’” but this oddly shaped burrowing mollusk from the Pacific North West is a prized delicacy across the world and is becoming more and more popular as the popularity of bi-valves continues to soar. If you’re from the area, or have eaten these briny buggers in a fancy restaurant, then you’re familiar with the experience. For those of you who have only admired from afar, there are some things you may want to know before taking them for a spin.
Also known as “mud duck,” “king clam,” or “elephant-trunk clam;” these clams are among one of the longest-living animals on the planet. The oldest one ever recorded was 168 years young, but most tend to live well over a century.
On average the geoduck weighs 1.5lbs, but can get up to 15lbs depending on living depth and age. The largest of these species resides in the Pacific North West of America, but they have a fair amount of cousins in Argentina, Japan, and New Zealand.
Native to northwest America, geoducks live deep (up to three feet) in the mud and feed on local algae. So you can imagine the complex flavor profile a creature like this can have. It can be described as a fresh, strong clam flavor with a faint orange-maple finish when eaten raw. When cooked, it retains its fresh taste and crisp texture.
It is this unique flavor that jump-started its popularity over 40 years ago. Until that point, they were pretty much unheard of on the global market. Currently in Hong Kong, a single geoduck can go for upwards of $100, compared to a mere $10 in the 80’s.
At Samuels, we source our wild geoducks from southeast Alaska. These tend to have thinner shells than the aquaculture varieties coming in from Washington State, making them much easier to shuck. In Alaska, the harvest season runs from October through May, but there is no limit to the size, age, or quantity caught, so the availability is very consistent throughout the season.
One of the main reasons these delicacies are so sought after has much to do with the way they are harvested. All of our wild geoducks are hand caught by divers. They have to walk along the sea floor, as deep as 70 feet at times, with only an umbilical like air supply. To remove them from the mud, the divers have to use a spray gun and force water into the holes the siphons (the long mussels) stick out of. Once the mud has been removed around them, they are pulled up by their phallic shaped mussels.
Generally speaking in western cuisine, these are served raw like crudo, or in a ceviche style. Chinese and Korean enthusiast will use the belly of the clam in stews and stir fry’s. The easiest way to present these to your customers would be to slice the siphon and deep fry it like you would calamari.
If you want to see how you break these aphrodesiacs down, head over to our YouTube channel and check out Chef Denick’s demo!