A geoduck in the hand

(Picture courtesy of Nervous ned at wikipedia commons.)

Production of the delicacy the Northwest knows as geoduck, pronounced gooey duck, has been disrupted by findings in China that showed toxic contamination from some sources.

 Chinese authorities stated that according to their testing procedures, the level of arsenic toxin showed geoduck from the U.S. West Coast were not safe for human consumption.

A recent letter in which China answered the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) knocked down the hopes of shellfish harvesters, especially those from Washington state, who caught most of the USD 68 million worth geoduck clams exported to China in 2012.

Chinese tests did reveal elevated levels of arsenic in the skin of the giant clams, which state health officials from the U.S. said was typically discarded.

The geoduck continues to produce its delectable food source, and that seems still to be making it to Asia.

When the Chinese ban took effect Dec. 3, the Suquamish Tribe had more than 140,000 pounds left to harvest before the end of the season on March 31, laying off its 24 divers with little hope of finishing the season. However, the tribe has now resumed harvesting and is shipping to new markets, said Tony Forsman, general manager of Suquamish Seafoods.

“Currently we are shipping to Vietnam, Hong Kong and some limited domestic markets,” he said Friday.

Taylor Shellfish Farms, based in Shelton, Mason County, is one of the largest geoduck providers in the state and usually ships half its harvested geoduck to China. After the ban went into effect, the company laid off some employees, but it has continued to ship geoduck and other shellfish to Hong Kong and other markets, company spokesman Bill Dewey said.

The duckie looks intriguing, and recipes abound for preparation of what’s reputed to be fantastic eating.


* 10 oz sliced geoduck
* 4 tbsp unsalted butter
* 1 1/2 onions, diced
* 4 cups clam juice
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
* 1 celery stalk, diced
* 1 large red or white potato, peeled and diced
* 1/4 tsp black pepper
* 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
* 1/2 lemon, juiced

Beurre Maine:

* 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
* 1 tbsp flour


1. Grind geoduck in meat grinder until roughly chopped.2. Melt butter over low heat in a large stockpot. Cook onions until soft. 3. Add geoduck and cook an additional 3 min, stirring occasionally to avoid browning. 4. Add clam juice and bring to a boil. 5. Add cream and return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. 6. Add carrots, celery, and potato. Cook over medium-low heat until veggies are tender, about 10 min. 7. Make the Buerre Maine by mixing softened butter and flour together to form a paste. Press into a whisk and stir into soup until evenly dispersed.

8. Stir in remaining Ingredients, adjusting seasonings to taste.

One day I really must try the geoduck, myself.  It appears to be obscenely good.