Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Canton: Part II Geoduck adventures

Q: How do you pronounce 'geoduck'?
A: OK, so maybe people haven't been asking this, but they're almost certainly getting it all wrong, so you have to read this one anyway, and read it first.

The proper way to pronounce the word is "gooey-duck", not "gee-oh-duck". Unlike learning the proper way to pronounce words such as "Cthulhu" and "YHWH", this admittedly does not entail risk to your mortal soul. Nevertheless, if you one day happen to fall into a conversation with a group of geoduck aficionados, you don't want to instantly reveal yourself to be a clueless newbie outsider, now do you?

Q: Where did the species get that weird name from?
A: The name seems to have originated from an Native American word meaning 'to dig deep'. It worked its way into English via a pidgin trading language called 'Chinook', which was developed and used between the area's Native Americans and the arriving European settlers. Why these two groups felt the need to discuss clams, I do not know.

The world's first geoduck fishery was created in 1970, but demand for the semi-forgotten clam was low. Today, they sell in Asia for up to US$30/lb (US$65/kg). Geoduck, like abalone, is highly regarded in Chinese cuisine. Its large, meaty siphon is prized for its savory flavor and crunchy texture. It is extremely popular in Hong Kong, China and Japan, where it is considered a delicacy. Geoduck is mostly eaten cooked in a fondue-style Chinese hot pot or raw sashimi style, dipped in soy sauce and wasabi. On Japanese menus, geoduck is called mirugai or mirukuigai. It also has a texture similar to an Ark Shell (Akagai). (Although mirugai is sometimes translated to English as "Giant Clam", it is distinguished from "Himejako" sushi made from Tridacna gigas.)

Let's start with something a little more pedestrian. Here in a picture of New Canton's house fried rice. I liked it. The shrimp were not over cooked, there was not too much soy sauce and the asparagus added some crunch and a little sweetness to complement the saltiness of the soy sauce. The rice was fresh and it came hot and steamy to our table.

Next up we have stir fried chicken...

umm NOT! Looks like it right? This is one of our preparations of geoduck. I have seen this on TV many times and said, "What the hell, let's order it!" The stir frying mush have caramelized some of the geoduck because it brought out a lot of the sweetness. Surprisingly it was firm, but not chewy. My friend said, "It tastes like chicken!" and my response to that was "Shut up! With that response you have earned the privilege of paying the bill." Well it did taste a little like chicken. hmm...think about it:

  • Geoduck McNuggets

  • Geoduck fried steak

  • Geoduck kiev

  • Geoduck pot pie

The next thing we had was the geoduck sashimi. (I guess when you order geoduck, you get it prepared two ways). This was the first time that I had seen wasabi at a Chinese restaurant. The flavor was very much like the clam sashimi that I have had at Japanese restaurants, but much fresher. It had a firm almost crunchy texture. The flavor was slightly sweet, fresh and briny.



Overall, I was happy with the meal at New Canton.