Geoducks (or “giant clams”) are a type of bivalve that lives along the coast of Asia.
They are often used in Japanese cooking because they have a firm texture similar to that of an oyster but also have a milder flavor than most other types of mollusks.
What Is A Geoduck?
The name “geoduck” comes from two words: “geo-dake” meaning “earth/sea monster” and “duck” which refers to their resemblance to ducks.
The giant clams were originally discovered by fishermen who had found them on beaches throughout Japan.
In addition to being harvested for food, geoducks are also collected for use in traditional medicine.
Geoducks are commonly sold in markets at low prices due to their abundance near shoreline areas.
In fact, many people will go out into the ocean to harvest these creatures themselves, using long poles with hooks attached to them.
When the geoduck grabs onto one of the hooks, it pulls itself up until it can be pulled back to shore.
Due to their size, geoducks are difficult to transport and store without breaking apart.
Many restaurants prefer to cook them fresh and serve them immediately after harvesting so they don’t lose any flavor or aroma.
When cooked properly, geoducks taste like something between an oyster and a cucumber.
Because of this, they are sometimes referred to as “oysters on stilts.”
How Do You Catch A Geoduck?
You can buy them at your local fish market or grocery store, sometimes labeled “dried giant clam.”
If you want to harvest one yourself, you will need to find a good spot where there are no boats or people around so that it doesn’t get caught up on anything and then die.
The best time to go looking for geoducks is in May when the tide is low enough for them to be easily accessible.
The easiest way to know if you found a good place to pull out one is to see how many others are already waiting their turn.
Once you find a nice location, dig a hole big enough for the geoduck to fit into and drop it inside.
Then wait until the next high tide before pulling it out with tongs.
You may need to repeat this process several times over the course of a few hours, depending on how thick-skinned the geoduck happens to be.
How Do You Prepare A Geoduck?
The best way to cook a geoduck is by steaming it over direct heat.
You can use either water or vegetable oil for this method.
The oil will give the geoduck better coloration during cooking.
- Put on your rubber gloves and wash up with soap before beginning preparation.
- Slice open the shell using a sharp knife.
- Separate out the soft flesh from the hard muscle within the body cavity.
- Remove any excess fat around the edges of the geoduck’s body.
- Rinse off the geoduck under cold running water until all traces of blood are gone.
- Dry the geoduck thoroughly with paper towels and then place it skin side down onto a wire rack so that it dries evenly.
- Place the geoduck into a pot filled with hot water and bring to a boil. If there are no bubbles coming up through the surface of the water, add more boiling water at regular intervals until the water comes to a rolling boil.
- Add 1/4 cup of salt per gallon of water and stir well. This helps keep the geoduck tender while preserving its natural moisture content.
- Once the water reaches a full boil, lower the temperature slightly and cover the pot with a lid. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After ten minutes, remove the lid and continue to let simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until the Geoduck meat becomes translucent.
- When the geoduck meat becomes fully opaque, turn off the burner, remove the pan from the stove, and allow the geoduck to cool completely.
- If desired, cut the geoduck lengthwise and serve immediately with soy sauce, sesame paste, ginger, scallions, or whatever else you may prefer.
What Does A Geoduck Taste Like?
The average size of a geoduck ranges from 12-20 inches long.
The shells can weigh anywhere from 1 pound to over 6 pounds each!
These creatures live on rocky bottoms in shallow water where there is a lot of sand and sediment.
Geoducks don’t filter their food through gills or siphons; instead, they eat tiny organisms that make up plankton floating around in the sea.
They typically inhabit sandy areas near shorelines, which means you won’t find them far out at sea.
But if you catch one off the beach somewhere, it doesn’t mean you will be able to cook with it — unless you know how to clean a geoduck properly.
In addition to being tasty, geoducks also happen to be very nutritious.
In fact, they contain more protein per ounce than any other known seafood.
And since they are full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, it makes sense to include this delicacy into your diet regularly.
But what exactly does a geoduck taste like?
How should you prepare it for dinner so you get the maximum amount of nutrients and tastiness?
What Is The Best Geoduck Recipe?
The following recipes for geoduck come from the blog The Saltine Table.
This site contains several dozen different recipes using this shellfish.
Most involve simply steaming them or pan-frying them.
Some add ingredients such as ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, green onions, and even wasabi paste.
These dishes might not be authentic geoduck recipes exactly, since many Asian cultures don’t eat geoducks at all, but it’s still fun to try out some new ways to prepare these tasty mollusks.
Ginger Geoduck with Soy Sauce and Scallions
This dish is one of my favorites on the blog.
I love how simple it is — just four main ingredients: geoduck, ginger, soy sauce, and scallion!
Here’s what you need to know about preparing this dish:
- First off, find yourself a giant clam. You can either buy them directly from a restaurant or market, or you can ask your local fishmonger if he knows where to get them.
- You will want to clean each geoduck before cutting into it. To remove their tough outer shells, cut around the edges of the shell with a sharp knife until you reach the hinge. Then use a small spoon to gently pry open the shell.
- Once the shell is removed, rinse the geoduck under cold water to remove any sand and grit inside. If there are tiny bits of meat left behind after rinsing, feel free to discard them. Otherwise, you may choose to leave those pieces in place depending on how much you plan on eating later.
- Now take a heavy skillet or wok over medium heat and coat it with olive oil. Add the cleaned geoducks and let them sit undisturbed for a few minutes so that the geoducks begin to steam. When the geoducks appear slightly translucent, turn them over carefully and then flip them again once more for another minute or two. Remove the geoducks when they become bright white and opaque throughout.
- While the geoducks are searing, slice up the scallions and stir fry them in a separate wok or pan. Once the scallions are tender and beginning to brown, mix them together with the geoducks.
- Next, pour in 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir everything well to combine. After adding these ingredients, toss in the sliced spring onion greens and give everything a good stir.
- Finally, pour in 3/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce. Let everything simmer for a couple of minutes while stirring constantly so that the liquid reduces by half. Finally, serve the dish over hot cooked rice.
Soy Ginger Geoduck
Another great way to enjoy geoducks is to boil them whole and then peel away the thin skin.
Next, chop the geoduck into bite-sized chunks, and sauté them in a little bit of vegetable oil.
Season the geoducks with salt and pepper, followed by a splash of Shaoxing wine.
Add a dash of chili flakes and a teaspoon of granulated sugar.
Sautee for about five minutes before serving.
If you prefer, you can also make this dish with frozen geoduck instead of fresh ones.
Just thaw the geoducks first, drain them thoroughly, and then follow the same steps above.
These frozen geoducks tend to retain a lot less moisture, which makes them drier overall.
How Do You Cook A Geoduck?
The easiest way to prepare geoducks is simply by steaming them for about 10 minutes or until tender.
The shells can be removed before serving so there will not be any unpleasant taste left behind from the shellfish itself.
Geoduck meat is very delicate, however, so it should be served immediately after removing the shell.
Step 1: Cleaning the Geoduck Shell
Before you begin preparing your geoduck, make sure to clean the inside of the shell thoroughly with a small brush to remove all dirt and debris.
Next, you must peel off the outer layer of the shell using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors.
This step may take some time depending on how thick the shell is, but once you complete this task, you will have access to a delicious meal full of healthy protein!
Step 2: Boiling Water
Once you have peeled the shell away, place the cleaned geoduck into a pot filled with boiling water.
You want to boil the geoduck at a high temperature for approximately 5-10 minutes.
You need to keep the water at a strong boil during this process to ensure that all moisture evaporates from the geoduck.
Once this occurs, the geoduck will become soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.
Step 3: Preparing the Geoduck Meat
After the geoduck has cooked long enough, drain it completely of all remaining liquid.
Then slice open the geoduck and carefully pull out the soft flesh with two forks.
You may use a spoon if necessary to help extract the geoduck meat.
Once the geoduck meat is pulled out, transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool down slightly.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Geoduck?
The biggest benefit of eating geoduck is that it contains high levels of protein, making it one of the best sources for this nutrient on the planet.
Geoduck meat can be eaten raw or cooked — depending upon how much time you spend doing so — and both methods have their own advantages.
For example, geoduck meat tastes great when pan-fried in butter at medium temperature.
However, if you prefer steaming your geoduck instead, then simply steam it until tender before serving.
In addition to being incredibly nutritious, geoduck meat is very low in fat content.
The average amount of cholesterol found in a single serving is only about 10 milligrams.
Other nutrients found in geoduck
- Vitamin B12 – This vitamin helps our bodies produce energy and maintain healthy blood cells.
- Fiber – Fiber aids digestion by helping food pass through the digestive tract more easily.
- Selenium – Selenium is essential for proper functioning of many body systems including the immune system and thyroid gland.
- Zinc – Zinc plays a role in nearly every bodily function from metabolism to growth and development.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Eating Geoduck?
The only risk you should be concerned about when consuming geoduck is if you happen to come across one while diving or snorkeling.
Geoducks are very poisonous because their shells contain toxins called cephalins.
The average person will not experience any symptoms after ingesting these shellfish, although some people may become ill if they consume too many at once.
It is important to note that it is extremely rare for someone to die from consuming geoduck.
In fact, no deaths due to geoduck consumption were reported during the study period analyzed by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
There are approximately 40 million tons of geoducks harvested every year around Japan alone, so even though it is possible to eat them safely, it is still best to avoid them altogether.
How Can I Get More Information About Geoduck?
The best place to start your research on geoducks will be at one of their official websites.
The main sources for geoducks are Japan and China, and each country has a dedicated site where you can find out everything from how to cook them to where you can purchase them.
- Japan – Geoduck.com
- China – Chinese Seafood Information Network
- USA – Giant Clam Recipes
For those who want some extra information, here are a few links to help you learn even more about these fascinating creatures.
What do geoducks look like?
Geoducks vary greatly in size depending on the species.
Some varieties reach up to 30 centimeters long while others only grow to around 15 centimeters.
You may see pictures online showing giant clams that seem very small compared to their larger counterparts, but keep in mind that it takes years before the animal reaches maturity enough to produce eggs or sperm.
When you eat a geoduck, you should expect to swallow something the size of a golf ball.
In fact, if you open up a geoduck shell when you first take it home, you might think that you’re looking at a golf ball!
Do geoducks make good pets?
While geoducks don’t make great pets, many people love owning them as aquarium fish.
If you choose this route, you need to understand that geoduck shells are extremely fragile and difficult to care for properly.
As a result, most people just end up keeping them as decorative houseplants instead of having them as real aquarium inhabitants.
Can geoducks live outside of water?
Yes, geoducks can also survive without access to fresh water.
However, they won’t grow much bigger than normal unless they are kept in a tank filled with seawater.
This means that you’ll never be able to harvest anything close to the amount of food that you would normally be able to get by harvesting wild-caught geoducks.
Where Can I Buy Geoduck?
You can find fresh geoduck at many grocery stores or seafood markets near your area.
You may be able to order it online from some of these vendors as well.
If you live on the West Coast, however, chances are good that you will need to travel farther to find fresh geoduck, since the supply chain for this species is limited.
Some restaurants offer frozen geoduck, which is usually sold by weight rather than by size.
You may want to ask if the vendor offers whole or half-size geoduck before making your purchase.
Some restaurants sell only the meaty part of the geoduck, while others offer both the meaty portion and the hard shell.
The shells are typically discarded after use, so you should make sure you’re getting all the meat.
- 1 Air fryer
- 1 Geoduck Clam
- 1 Scallion
- 2 oz Ginger
- sugar and salt to taste
- 1 tbsp fermented chili bean paste
- Peanut oil
- Per person, slice 6 to 7 ounces of geoduck (you can use the ends and the trims from a previous geoduck recipe)
- Scallions should be chopped into 1 to 2 in.Chop the scallions in advance.Thinly slice pieces of ginger
- A hot wok should have a small drip of peanut oil added to completely cover the bottom.Add garlic, ginger, and chili bean paste while the oil is cooking so that they may caramelize.
- Add the geoduck flesh and scallion pieces a few seconds later and let them sear.Add some sugar and salt.For around 5 minutes, begin tossing everything in the wok.Fresh scallions should be added to the dinner.