Geoduck: Strange Grub

Posted August 1, 2013 by Karen in Author Days, LLLoves Author Days, Recipes / 0 Comments

I’ve had the pleasure of following a really cool blogger over on Google+.  If you get a chance, stop by, show her some love and leave some comments.  Shinae Choi Robinson is a gorgeous, witty, and talented lady who is serious about her Food Porn.  Her pics are to die for and the recipes rock!

She wrote a post in the beginning of June that centered around this strange clam called Geoduck.  It was titled a Strange Grub and quite appropriately so, if you’ve ever had a chance to look at one.  What a coincidence it was that I just happened to read  Daisy Prescott’s book weeks after reading her post.  Destiny?  Perhaps; because I am just in love with the two of them!   In any case, Shinae kindly gave me permission to post her most informative article regarding Geoducks.  So without further ado…

Strange Grub-Giant Penis Clam ( aka Geoduck) 

Now that LAM reads my blog regularly, I debated for 2.5 seconds whether to use the word PENIS, but I figure since I’m talking about FOOD and not my sex life, she’ll get over it.

Ain’t that right, Mama? 😛

Moving right along…

So the name geoduck is derived from a Pacific Northwestern Native American word and is pronounced GOOEYduck or GWEEduck – essentially nothing like it’s spelled. And one can only assume that the guy in charge of that transliteration had an iffy grasp on English phonemes.

If we just called it Giant Penis Clam, we wouldn’t have that whole pronunciation issue and people wouldn’t ever have to wrack their brains trying to remember what it’s called, but I guess that might cause marketing issues and people would want to eat them less than they already do.

Unless of course we’re talking about the exports to China (most of our geoduck crop is exported to China, BTW), where they’d probably sell doubly well if they were called Giant Penis Clams because superstitious Asian people in Asia seem to have an affinity for eating anything that remotely suggests that its consumption would result in penis or potency enhancement. (I never said I wasn’t going to talk about other peoples’ sex lives…)

And if you think I’m making a big penis-pumped phallic to-do about this clam, when you see the pics, you’ll know why it’s near impossible not to.

So the flesh of geoduck, if you’ve never had it, tastes like a cross between your average fan-shape shelled clam – say, a Littleneck – and the sweetest scallop you’ve ever tasted, with texture ranging from a cross between firm jello and oyster on the shell end becoming progressively firmer toward the *ahem* protruding end, otherwise known as its siphon or neck, to where it’s downright crunchy at the tip. (The Man says that was so wrong, but WHAT – IT’S TRUE.)

The one I photographed here has a rather short neck and I think he had a pretty bad attitude about it as a result, making it extra challenging to pry him from his shell.

Before you get started have a pot of hot tap water or boiled water ready for purposes you’ll see in a bit. Then cut through the tough ligament thingies attaching the clam to the shell on both sides.
Then pry the shells apart, and !Voila! Dumbo.
At this point, give the geoduck a good and thorough rinse in cold water. If it smells like anything but fresh ocean water, it’s probably not so fresh, and you might not make yourself sick, but you’ll most likely turn your palate away from geoduck for a very, VERY long time if you eat it.If it smells murky or rotten at all, you should get your not small amount of money back. (This stuff ain’t cheap.)When you pull the body of the clam away from the shell, you’re going to find this thing that looks like bwalls, and well, it is a gonad, so it’s basically bwalls.People tend to discard this part, but it tastes sweetly of the ocean and makes a wonderful stock for seafood based soups and stews.
By the way, this tubey thing isn’t a clam penis, nor is it some kind of parasite. It’s something called a crystalline style and is part of their digestive system. Tastes like a mildly salty chap chae noodle, actually. 😛
Ok. Once the gonad is removed, you have the mantle (the fleshy part that was covered by the shell) and the siphon (the fleshy part outside the shell), and it is all covered by an outer rubbery *sheath* called a periostracum. To remove that sheath, dunk the clam in that hot water for 15 to 20 seconds. Doing this will not only facilitate the removal, but it’ll firm up the flesh and make it easier to slice.
Start from any edge and rub the periostracum away. Once you’ve got about an inch pulled away with which to pull, slowly and gently pull on the periostracum toward the end of the neck. It should pull away with ease. You may have to do this a few times to get all of the stuff off the clam.
In the front, the siphon, in the back the mantle, both completely edible.
I like to separate them into a mantle piece and siphon piece, then cut the siphon piece in half so I can wash away any sand or dirt that’s accumulated there.
On the day I took these pics, we ate the entire clam as sashimi, so I cut them thusly. (That’s an Alton-ism.)
And served them with choh gochoojahng (Korean style), wasabi and shoyu (Japanese style), and paper thin slices of lemon.
This is geoduck sushi from another day from Nozomi in CarlsbadMirugai (MEErooguy) is the Japanese word for geoduck, so you’ll likely find it presented on the menu as such. And they for the most part only serve you siphon pieces.
But the stuff also makes delicious soups and ceviche among other things as well.

The fact that this is a Strange Grub post does however indicate my awareness that geoduck is not for everyone. You have to have an open mind and adventurous palate to allow yourself to get past the obscene appearance and uncommon texture. But if you, like I, are a sucker for superfresh raw things that smell and taste of the ocean, you may want to give The Giant Penis Clam a blow go.

Mama, you may pick your jaw up off the floor now. <Turns off phone.> 😛

About the Author:

I was born in February of 1973, which makes me a fish and a cow. I think that says a lot about me.I’m a half Korean and half Vietnamese mother of two fairly awesome and interesting younger people named Joey and Maddi and now also a little 4th of July firecracker named Isabella (we usually call her Izzy). And I am madly in love with a tall, white, and handsome Man who eats everything I make for him with gusto, brews amazing beer, plays guitar, shares my near unnatural love of really good sushi, is an awesome dad and stepdad, and generally rocks my world all the time.I’ve lived some interesting and some would say unenviable life to get to this place.Clearly, I love food. All kinds of it. And so very much. And music. And dance. And swear words. I also have a very conflicted love-hate relationship with pop culture.I admire people who live their beliefs while respecting the beliefs of others. I try to do the same with some success some of the time.A big huge THANK YOU to each person who comes back and keeps reading, for your support and inspiration. Even if one day you should find this blog no longer serves you, you have already lent me a much needed ear and given me much appreciated motivation to continue to hone my bliss.

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