SeaFood Business

MAR 2014

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44 SeaFood Business March 2014 Visit us online at www.seafoodbusiness.com Special Feature Photos courtesy of Taylor Shellifsh Farms Geoducks Chinese ban has clam producers looking to grow domestic markets BY MELISSA WOOD I f ever a seafood could be called special, it would be geoduck (pronounced, "gooey duck"). Te elon- gated giant clam is a ru- mored aphrodisiac, North- west icon and reality TV star (appearing on "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," "Bizarre Foods," "Top Chef," "Dirty Jobs" and "Chopped," to name a few). It's also a highly prized hotpot delicacy in China, where consumers pay top dollar for the species that is now the subject of a controversial ban of West Coast shellfsh. Geoducks are local leg- ends on Puget Sound. Josh Green remembers going out for geoducks while growing up on Washington's Vashon Island. He and his father would take their shovels out at midnight to look for the telltale bubbling in the sand indicating a siphon. Ten it was time to "dig deep" — which is the meaning of the Nisqually American Indian word, "gweduc" — to reach the rest of the clam, about 3 feet below. Green now believes part of his father's intention was to wear him out with all the digging. No matter. "It was always so much fun," he says. "We'd take it home and clean it, and fry it up for lunch the next day. We were loving it." Green, who is chef for the Ballard Annex Oyster House in Seattle, has cooked geo- ducks in a variety of ways over the years. He sources from Taylor Shellfsh Farms in Shelton, Wash., which he began working with about eight years ago, and credits for its careful handling of the animals that allows them to be brought in live. To start, he blanches the clams in salt water then puts them in an ice pack. His preparations for Ballard Annex have included cru- do, ceviche or a quick pan fry with light favors that don't overwhelm the geo- duck's light, sweet favor: an Asian-favored ceviche with citrus and sesame oil, for in- stance, or a rosemary lemon crudo paired with a beet- infused martini. "It has enough of a unique favor. I think it's really nice to highlight that," he says. In mid-February, geo- ducks were on the menus of about 20 Seattle restaurants, a fact that was reported by local station Jeferson Pub- lic Radio as part of an efort to grow domestic demand as the Chinese ban that began Dec. 3 continued to hurt the industry. In February Green fea- tured the clams in a chowder, partly because the month is a slow time for restaurants in Seattle and the soup gives the product a longer shelf life. He also views chowder as a way to introduce more Seattle diners to a local spe- cies that doesn't yet have the status as favorites like oysters or wild salmon. "Most people are like, 'I've had that in sushi before with a little bit of rice.' People are familiar with it," says Green. "Ten you get people from the Northwest who are like, 'I remember digging that with my dad.'" Usually geoducks bypass the local market for China, where diners will pay up to $150 a pound for them; the United States exported $68 million worth of geoducks in 2012, primarily from Wash- ington state. But that market closed its doors to U.S. pro- ducers after Chinese ofcials reported fnding unaccept- able levels of paralytic shell- fsh poisoning (PSP) and in- organic arsenic in shipments from Alaska and Washing- ton, respectively. Tough the shipments were traced to distinct shell- fsh harvesting areas, the fndings led to a ban on West Coast molluscan shellfsh (clams, oysters, mussels and scallops) from Alaska to Northern California, which are all included in the same Area 67 in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's health Geoduck harvesters are hoping the clam will fnd its way to more U.S. plates. The clam's Northwest icon status is signifed by this classic postcard. 44_45SpecialFeature_78Calendar.indd 44 2/14/14 9:29 AM

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