Geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) is a clam with an oversized siphon (some people call it the neck) that bears an unfortunate resemblance to a certain part of the male anatomy; the siphon and body are so large that the shell can’t close tightly. Geoduck can be expensive at seafood restaurants, but it’s easy enough to prepare at home.

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Geoduck salad with Chinese celery and fresh coriander

When food stylist Nellie Ming Lee was buying geoduck for this photo shoot, the vendor asked her if she wanted them cleaned; if she did, the price would be double. Of course, Nellie declined, because cleaning them doesn’t take long. If you’re squeamish, how­ever (and don’t mind paying more), take the vendor up on the offer, but prepare the clams within a couple hours of buying them.

As with other types of fresh shellfish, geoduck gets tough if it’s overcooked. For these recipes, the clam is basically raw; it’s just blanched briefly, to make it easier to remove the rubbery membrane around
the siphon.

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12 small geoducks, with shells about 9cm in length
Fine sea salt

2-3 garlic cloves

2-3 red bird’s-eye chillies

6-8 long stalks of Chinese celery

10-15 grams fresh coriander stems and leaves

50ml regular soy sauce

30ml light soy sauce

25ml rice vinegar

10ml Chinese rose wine

5 grams granulated sugar

Lay several sheets of (yesterday’s) newspaper on the work surface (this makes it easier to clean up and also helps to absorb some of the liquid). Lay one geoduck on the newspaper with the open side facing right (if you’re right-handed). Run a thin-bladed knife between the lower shell and the flesh, to cut the adductor muscle. Turn the clam over and cut the adductor muscle from the other side of the shell. Lay the geoduck on a tray and do the same with the remaining clams.

Prepare a large bowl of iced water. Heat a large pot of salted water. When the water boils, add the shelled geoducks, blanch for 10 seconds, then drain. Immediately put the blanched geoducks in the bowl of iced water and leave for a few minutes, then drain. Lay a geoduck on a cutting board and remove and discard the membrane that surrounds the siphon. Cut the siphon from the body. Slice the siphon in half then put the pieces in a bowl. Pull out the mantle (which is long and thin) and place it in the bowl. From the body, cut off and discard the gills, and squeeze out any dark, soft parts, so that all you are left with is the meat. Rinse this briefly to remove any grit then put the cleaned body meat into the bowl.

Mince the garlic. Slice the chillies into thin circles, removing as many seeds as possible. Put the garlic and chillies into the bowl with the geoduck. Remove some of the leaves from the celery stalks and coriander stems (reserve these for the garnish). Tear the celery stalks and leaves into 3cm pieces (tearing gives more flavour than if you cut it). Roughly chop the coriander stems and add them and the celery pieces to the bowl.

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In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauces, rice vinegar and rose wine with the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the geoduck and other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes (or up to several hours), stirring occasionally.

Spoon the solid ingredients into four starter-portion dishes and drizzle with some of the marinade. Garnish with the reserved celery and coriander leaves, then serve immediately.

Spicy geoduck with gochujang and cucumber

12 small geoducks, with shells about 9cm in length
30ml regular soy sauce

30ml rice wine (I use sake)

30ml rice vinegar

20ml warm water

About 5 grams granulated sugar

15ml sesame oil

10ml gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

A pinch of gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)

A few stalks of fresh coriander

1 Japanese or Korean cucumber, about 12cm long

Lightly toasted sesame seeds

Detach the geoducks from the shells, then blanch and clean, as in the first recipe. Cut up the edible parts and put them into a bowl.

Put the soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, warm water and five grams of sugar into a bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Mix in the sesame oil, gochujang and gochu­garu. Dip a piece of geoduck into the sauce and taste; if it’s too spicy, mix in more sugar. Finely chop the coriander stalks and most of the leaves (set aside some for the garnish) and stir them into the sauce. Add the geoduck to the bowl and stir well.

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Cut the cucumber into 4cm lengths then finely julienne the pieces. Put the cucumber into the bowl containing the other ingredients and mix well. Divide the ingredients between four starter-portion dishes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds then garnish with the reserved coriander leaves. Serve immediately.