The dish: Geoduck

Everything you need to know about this curious (and expensive) seafood delicacy

Geoduck, RM26 per 100g. Photo: Hizwan Hamid
What it is
The geoduck (but pronounced gooey-duck) is a bivalve clam with an elephant trunk-like siphon protruding out of its shell, usually found in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Its name is derived from a Native American word (hence the peculiar pronunciation), which means ‘dig deep’. And dig deep it does. The largest burrowing clam in the world, the geoduck can be found in tidal flats and depths of up to 350 ft. Its longevity is also unrivalled among molluscs (and many other animals in fact), with an average of 160 years for geoduck found in the wild, where it slowly grows up to a meter in length. After a successful marketing campaign, it became a highly prized dish in the 1980s and has been ever since. We suspect its shape and Asia’s penchant for aphrodisiacs play a part in this. Also known as the elephant trunk clam, its high price is due to the time and effort required to grow one to a size deemed suitable for sale, which usually takes about five years.
The geoduck's siphon grows so big that its shell is unable to close. According to Chef Chan from Grand Harbour, first the flesh is separated from the shell with a paring knife. The shellfish is then dunked in boiling and then ice-cold water to allow the skin to be smoothly tugged off. Discard the egg-sized stomach, and the siphon and mantle of the geoduck come into play. There are a few ways of preparation, deep-fried (where skills are needed for addictive geoduck fritters), double boiled with chicken soup, lightly blanched and best of all, sashimi-style. For a really big duck, the siphon is split lengthwise, thinly sliced, and then presented on a bed of ice chips. 

Really fresh geoduck sashimi slightly curls on its edges due to muscle contraction. The siphon part has a crunchy texture, followed by a hint of chewiness, while the mantle is softer. Flavour-wise, it is briny, clean and sweet. To describe it simply, the geoduck has the abalone's firm texture and the scallop's sweetness, combined with a crisp chew of its own. If you're not a fan of sashimi, dunk it (for three seconds max) in a pot of gently steaming superior soup.

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