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It’s time to dig for a geoduck on the beaches of Puget Sound and Hood Canal as extremely low tides are looming on the near horizon allowing shellfish gatherers a rare chance to get these deep-dwelling shellfish.

For those who don’t want to be in waist-deep sand and muck can purchase them at many seafood stores in the Seattle area. Just be ready for a bit of sticker shock as the price per pound can be on the high end.

This week, chef “Joe” Sato at Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown offers a delightful geoduck recipe, which is a rare and expensive treat in Asia. The meat is very sweet and has a great crunchy texture.

Photo of chef “Joe” Sato courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.
Photo of chef “Joe” Sato courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.

Sato was born and raised in Tokyo, and acquired his skills in Japan before moving to Canada. He has managed the Japanese Culinary division of the Pan Pacific Hotel as a head chef in Vancouver, BC.

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In 2006, Sato moved to the Puget Sound area, where he refined his sushi making skills, and worked as a GM/Executive Sushi Chef at I Love Sushi on Lake Bellevue for nearly a decade long.

In 1994, master sushi chef Shiro Kashiba opened his namesake restaurant, blending his knowledge with the Pacific Northwest’s wealth of local seafood and ingredients and  “set the bar that others aspire to,” according to the highly regarded Zagat Guide.

Seattle Times fishing reporter Mark Yuasa and son Tegan Yuasa holding a nice geoduck.
Seattle Times fishing reporter Mark Yuasa and son Tegan Yuasa holding a nice geoduck.

Target geoduck during extreme low tides

The geoduck is one of the oldest and most impressive clams, which can weigh up to 10 pounds (average weight is about 2 pounds) and live as long as 140 years.

It is one of the tastiest in the shellfish family, and inhabits the sandy beaches at depths of about 3 to 4 feet deep.

The big myth is a geoduck digs down to escape when pursued. The retraction of the long neck fools you into thinking the clam is escaping downward. A burrowed adult geoduck’s siphon can stretch about 39 inches into the sea bed.

That is likely why their name originated from a Native American word meaning “to dig deep.”

Taylan Yuasa hoists up a geoduck from a northern Puget Sound beach. Photo by Mark Yuasa.
Taylan Yuasa hoists up a geoduck from a northern Puget Sound beach. Photo by Mark Yuasa.

Geoducks reside along the West Coast as far south as Baja California, but harvestable populations are found only in Puget Sound-Hood Canal, British Columbia and southeast Alaska.

Puget Sound’s bays and estuaries host the highest density of geoducks in the United States.

The best areas to locate geoduck are below the intertidal beach area beyond the zero feet to minus-2 feet.

State fisheries has a page devoted to geoduck at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/geoduck/.

Low tides: Thursday (May 25), minus-2.2 feet at 10:33 a.m.; Friday (May 26), -2.9 at 11:17 a.m.; Saturday (May 27), -3.1 at 12:03 p.m.; Sunday (May 28), -2.9 at 12:52 p.m.; Monday (May 29), -2.3 at 1:42 p.m.; Tuesday (May 30), -1.4 at 2:35 p.m.; Wednesday (May 31), -0.3 at 3:30 p.m. The next low tide series in June is from June 7-14 and June 21-28. Additional low tides for summer can be found at http://www.saltwatertides.com/dynamic.dir/washingtonsites.html.

According to the state Ecology Department, geoducks typically burrow about 3 feet into the sand and live in the lower intertidal and subtidal zones, about 10 to 80 feet below the mean low-tide mark.Gig Harbor, Wa. Kopachuck State Park. Low tide at Kopachuck State Park near Gig Harbor creates a shellfish harvest opportunity.  Melvin Correa reaches into the sand to try and pull a geoduck from the beach.
According to the state Ecology Department, geoducks typically burrow about 3 feet into the sand and live in the lower intertidal and subtidal zones, about 10 to 80 feet below the mean low-tide mark.Gig Harbor, Wa. Kopachuck State Park. Low tide at Kopachuck State Park near Gig Harbor creates a shellfish harvest opportunity. Melvin Correa reaches into the sand to try and pull a geoduck from the beach.

Diggers should note that all eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are also closed for shellfish due to unsafe pollution levels.

Before heading to a beach, call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the website at www.doh.wa.gov. Also check the state fisheries hotline at 866-880-5431 and website at http://wdfw.wa.gov. State Fish and Wildlife offers a good interactive shellfish map at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/beachreg.

Geoduck Miso Butter

Ingredients

7 ounce of geoduck

2 ounce of miso (white or Saikyo miso)

1/2 teaspoon Shichimi Pepper or Cayenne pepper

0.2 ounce of garlic

0.4 ounce of sesame oil

1 ounce of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of butter

Photo of geoduck butter miso dish courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.
Photo of geoduck butter miso dish courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.

Directions

Take a paring knife and cut along the sides of the shell. Once the sides are free, separate the shell & upper meat, leaving the stomach.

Put the entire geoduck in slightly cooler than boiling water for 10 seconds (no longer or it will get tough), then immediately transfer into ice water. Pull off the brown outer skin.

Cut down the middle part of upper meat to open it up and wash to remove any sand or other debris. (Optional) Cut off the tough “hind end” of the geoduck. Separate the geoduck into (2) halves.

Cut the upper meat into very thin slices. Cut the mantle into thicker pieces.

Photo courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.
Photo courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown.

Directions for Miso sauce

Mix and stir miso, garlic, sesame oil and sugar into a bowl. Then put the sauce and geoduck in a Ziploc bag and take all the air out. Marinate in the fridge over night for eight hours.

Directions for sauteing geoduck

Wash the geoduck (take off all the sauce). Heat up the pan and throw in butter (1/2 teaspoon) then saute’ geoduck for two minutes.

Presentation

Put a few pieces of geoduck onto the skewers and splash Shichimi or Cayenne pepper on top.

Recipe feature comes to an end

I have enjoyed posting from spring to early fall my Seafood Recipes of the Week by esteemed local chefs over the course of the past six years, but it’s coming to an end soon due to my departure from The Seattle Times as the fishing/hunting and outdoors reporter that dates back more than 25 years.

It has been a privilege to work on story ideas and gathering yummy tips, advice and recipes from the likes of Chef Tom Douglas, owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, among others; chefs at Maria Hines’ Tilth Restaurant including executive chef Joel Panlilio; Abby Canfield and Agrodolce restaurants owned Chef Maria Hines; Chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura; Chef Shota Nakajima, owner of Adana; Executive Chef Paul Duncan at Ray’s Boathouse Restaurant chefs; Head Chef Pat Donahue and other chefs at Anthony’s Restaurants; Executive Chefs Tristan Chalker, Ken Sharp, Jonathan Garcia, Jesus Boites and Wesley Hood from El Gaucho and AQUA by El Gaucho; Jason Wilson, owner of Miller’s Guild, The Lakehouse and Civility & Unrest; Chef Ben Godwin at RN74; Chef Jun Takai from Shiro’s Sushi; and Chef Maximillian Petty from Eden Hill Restaurant; and Chef/Owner Taylor Hoang of Pho Cyclo.

I hope that past recipes I’ve shared come in handy when you get “lucky” enough catch some of the best tasting fish and shellfish the Pacific Northwest has to offer!

Now it’s time for me to go out and catch a fish, and give some of these recipes a try myself.

Until we meet again happy eating!