It was a dark and stormy night. Rachel wandered aimlessly through the thick, slushy marsh. Suddenly, from out of the shadows, a giant geoduck emerged. Rachel screamed the scream of a thousand deaths and fell unconscious into the cold, murky waters.
Now don’t go all Duck Dynasty in a panic, grab a shotgun and go hunting for geoduck in a marsh. Although huge, geoduck is not that kind of duck. In fact, it isn’t a duck at all.
If it’s not a duck, then what the heck is geoduck?
I’m glad you asked.
Geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) is a peculiar looking bivalve mollusk that can be found predominantly in the Pacific Northwest. While it may bear a striking resemblance to a particular male body part, geoduck is actually a clam, and nature’s largest one to boot. Now don’t go getting your underwear in a bunch—this big baby is known for its, uh, shall we say, aphrodisiac properties. Whether there is any truth to that, I wouldn’t know personally. However, like other bivalve mollusks, geoducks are high in amino acids D-aspartic acid and N-methyl that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. They are extremely popular in China, and can be found in Asian specialty markets here in the U .S. for $20 a pound or more.
The name geoduck has its origins in the Nisqually Indian word gweduc which, translated, means “dig deep.” That is exactly what a geoduck does (and so will you, when you go searching for them); in the wild, it burrows deep into the floor of the sea, leaving it’s shell submerged while the long siphon neck remains in the water. Due to limits on the amount of wild geoducks that can be harvested, geoduck farms can be found in the Pacific Northwest. Geoducks in the wild can live for 100 years or more and can weigh in excess of 20 pounds.
As a prized ingredient in Chinese cuisine, they can sell for $50-$60 in a Hong Kong fish market. It takes roughly five years for a geoduck to grow to one- to one-and-a-half pounds. Culinarily speaking, the neck of the geoduck, which has a mild flavor, is used for sashimi or fritters while the tender body, which has a balanced shellfish flavor, is said to be great for sauteing or frying.
You wanted to know? Now you know.
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[Opening photo credit: VIUDeepBay / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)