Geoduck: The Largest Burrowing Clam

Although geoduck sounds like a duck species, it’s actually a giant clam whose name is pronounced like “gooey duck”. Read on to learn more about geoduck and how to use it in the kitchen. 

What is Geoduck?

Geoduck, the large and odd-looking bivalve seawater clam, belongs to the Hiatellidae family. It is commonly found in the seawater of Western Canada and the Northwest United States (US). The word “geoduck” is derived from “gweduc” which means “dig deep” in Lushootseed language, perhaps pointing to the fact that these clams remain buried deep in the seafloor for nearly their entire lives. The Chinese word for geoduck translates to “elephant trunk”, owing to their trunk-like neck that hangs out of the shell. The shell of geoduck clams can grow as long as 8 inches, while the neck can grow up to 3 feet long.

Geoduck is also believed to possess aphrodisiac qualities, however, there’s no strong evidence backing this stance. The elongated phallic-shaped neck of geoducks is most probably the reason for such associations. The US exports around 90% of geoduck to China and Hong Kong, where it’s enjoyed by many. Although geoducks are not quite fancied throughout the entire US, they are particularly enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest.

Image Credit: Flickr user Rock Portrait Photography ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Interesting Facts About Geoduck

●      Geoduck have a long life span that can last up to 168 years. 

●      Intriguingly, the geoduck is the biggest burrowing bivalve clam in the world.

●      Geoduck spends its entire life attached to a single spot on the seafloor. Its flexible neck sucks in seawater, consumes any planktons in it, and filters the excess water out.

What Does Geoduck Taste Like?

Geoduck is prized for its briny sweet flavor that’s incredibly refreshing and clear to the palate. The best part is they’re not fishy in flavor and are quite mild in taste. However, the texture is the most attractive geoduck feature: it’s tender, yet crisp at the same time. 

According to many, geoduck meat is soft like an abalone while chewy like a clam. However, geoducks are crunchier than both shellfish varieties.

Image Credit: Flickr user Metro – Los Angeles ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Uses of Geoduck?

Geoduck is regarded as a delicacy in China, and its neck is often savored raw and sliced to fully enjoy the crunchiness. However, geoduck is one of the easiest foods to prepare and cook. A slight scalding is enough to remove the outer skin to reveal the delicate meat underneath. You can then slice, mince, or even cook them whole. Intriguingly, the geoduck flesh can be fully cooked within 3 to 5 minutes. 

Japanese cuisine widely uses this clam in geoduck sushi and geoduck sashimi. While in Korea it is often savored raw with hot sauces, or even in stir-frys, and soups dishes. You can also prepare a hearty geoduck stew with our recipe Suquet de Peix that features potatoes, tomatoes, a bunch of spices, and the seafood of your choice!

Chinese hot pot is another great way of enjoying this seafood delicacy that involves cooking raw meat, seafood, and vegetables in a pot of simmering meat stock. The fondue-style hot pot ingredients are then dipped into sauces like soy sauce, hoisin, vinegar, etc., and savored right away. 

Americans, especially in the Northwest, leverage geoduck into ceviche, chowder, Crudo, and fresh salads. Try out our most loved recipe for New England Clam Chowder with chopped geoduck clams for an authentic five-star experience. Besides the presented recipe ideas, if you don’t feel like cooking the big clam, the option for eating geoduck raw is always available and is the most delectable too. 

Feature Image: Flickr user Marine Explorer ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

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