Clams: Geoduck


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Identification & Biology: The geoduck clam is the largest bivalve along Puget Sound and the largest burrowing clam in the world, weighing in at an average of one to three pounds (0.5 – 1.5 kg) at maturity. Also one of the oldest animals in the world, geoducks can live as long as 146 years. The Chinese call the geoduck the “elephant trunk clam”. A developing geoduck burrows into sediment 1 foot per year. After digging about 3 feet deep, the adult geoduck settles in for 100 years or more.

Range & Habitat: The Geoduck Clam, (pronounced “gooe­duck”), Panopea abrupta, native to the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada (primarily Washington, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska). Geoducks are harvested in deep waters by professional divers. Geoducks have been marketed in the United States as “king clam.” Considered a delicacy in Asian countries along the Pacific, geoducks are also shipped to Taiwan.

Market Description: The neck can be cut or ground and used in chowders. The body meat, when sliced, pounded and sautéed resembles abalone. Although they are edible, they are not widely marketed due to their inaccessibility. The prime meat comes from the neck, which may be up to 24-inches when fully extended, and the mantle can be cut or ground and used in chowders. The neck meat is often used in sushi or minced into patties and quick fried.

Recommended Preparation: Blanch the entire clam in boiling water for ten seconds. Using a paring knife, carve the clam away from the shell. Use gloves for this process to prevent slicing your hand on the sharp shell edges. Separate the viscera (gut) from the meat of the “neck” (the siphon) and the “breast”(the mantle, or tissue at the base of the siphon and along the shell margins). Peel the skin off the siphon and mantle; it should slip off like a glove. Wash the clam thoroughly. Split the siphon by inserting a knife or scissors and cut the siphon lengthwise. Wash the siphon, removing all traces of sand and grit. The meat below the siphon is the breast meat, and may be split down the median line and cut into small lengths. Once the tough outer skin is removed, the remaining breast meat is quite tender. The siphon meat is much firmer. It can be sectioned and pounded gently with the smooth side of a meat mallet to tenderize the sections into thin steaks. Tenderizing is not necessary if you intend to use the siphon meat in chowder or if you intend to eat it raw as sashimi, sushi or ceviche.