Pretty on the Inside

December 2, 2014

 Growing up in Vancouver meant frequent trips to various Gulf Islands to forage for clams, including geoduck, an unusually large saltwater variety. When I first discovered this bounty of nature, I depleted my aunt's entire Reed Island beach of them, and subsequently received a crash course in sustainable harvesting practices.

Often overlooked, or ridiculed because of both its name and its appearance, the phallic geoduck (pronounced "gooey duck") is due an image makeover. (Chef Takashi Ito, of the restaurant Aura in Victoria, has suggested "king clam" as a more fitting and consumer-friendly nomenclature.) Try it at Landmark Hot Pot House or any location of Kirin Restaurant: both send it to the table raw and thinly sliced, to be dunked into hot broth until your desired level of goodness is achieved. Its texture is slightly firmer than a scallop's, and its flavour is more delicate than an oyster's, with light minerality and a touch of brine.

As well, geoduck can usually be found live in the tanks at T & T supermarkets. If you're prone to sticker shock, however (these bad boys cost $75 to $100 each), look for them at low tide. Bring a sturdy shovel, beware red tide alerts, and please stay away from my aunt's beach

THE RECIPE: GEODUCK SASHIMI

From Rob Clark, The Fish Counter, 3825 Main St., 604-876-3474
Chef Rob Clark, the guru of sustainable local seafood, told me years ago about this simple recipe-his favourite way to eat geoduck

INGREDIENTS
1 geoduck (select one that's white and without blemishes)
soy sauce

Blanch the geoduck in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skin. Transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking (for less than one minute) and remove.

Take a knife and run it along one side of the shell to open. Carefully trim, keeping only the shaft and breast, which is the flat piece attached to the shaft. Separate the breast and shaft, then remove the skin from the shaft. Cut the shaft lengthwise to open flat. Rinse both pieces and thinly slice. Using chopsticks, dip in soy sauce and eat.

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