Monday, August 16, 2010

The beach (by Kat)

I wouldn't blame you if you thought I'd managed to fall into Puget Sound and drown, based on my lack of posting lately. Happily, I can report that I was the least injured of the family upon return from this vacation. That might very well be a first!

The house we rented with Mr. Boom's brother and his family sits on a bluff overlooking the Sound, has gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier, and has a kitchen that makes me feel very happy. The home is part of a private community that owns the northern part of Hartstene Island, so the kids were also able to enjoy the private swimming pool, hot tub, tennis courts, and of course the ping-pong table! Mr. Boom's brother and his wife are hardcore gamers, so we also enjoyed (or endured (shhh...)) several evenings of hardcore gaming.

We rented this same place last year, sharing with a third family (two families was better than three, I must admit), and knew before we left that we had to return this summer. And again as we left this year, I was already making plans in my head for next summer's trip out!

While the kids recreated away, I spent every minute I could on the beach, the veranda, or in the kitchen. Last year, I didn't really bring much in the way of cooking gear or supplies, and then kicked myself solidly and repeatedly when I discovered the house actually had a very nice kitchen to work in and that I had a crown of hungry people I could feed.

This year, and I'm only a little bit ashamed to admit it, I brought my rolling pin to make fresh pasta, I bought my espresso maker to have good coffee, I brought my three favroite chef knives, I brought a bundt cake pan to make a zucchini cake I'll tell you about later, and I bought my good thermometer to make sous-vide steaks which were finished up on the super uber fancy stainless steel propane barbecue that probably cost as much for the owners to purchase as our new car! I'm not a barbecuing kind of gal, but that monster and I became friends. Very, very close friends! Too bad I was there with people who didn't give a crap about food. Oh well. More geoduck and salmon in freshly rolled pasta in a bechamel sauce with Parmesan and mozzarella for me, right?

So, "what's a geoduck" you ask? First let's get the prononcuitation down. Gooey-duck. No joke!

Repeat after me: Goooooey-duck!

The geoduck is a bivalve on steroids that lives about three feet under the sand. The clam sends up a "neck" to the surface of the land and filters water down the tube to it's body, the water shoots back up the other side of the tube and squirts a few feet into the air. Like other filter feeders, the geoduck takes the worst fragments of rot and decay out of the water and turns them into sweet sweet goodness for me to eat. Crab, lobster, mussels--all of 'em eat the nasty and make it tasty.

Retrieving a geoduck from it's den in the down deep requires a lot of digging. The problem, of course, is that the further down you try do dig on the shoreline, the faster it fills in with water. The sides continually slough down into the center as well. I think our holes ended up nearly as wide as they were deep. But we were successful, and came home with three geoducks and a small bag of mussels and steamer clams to boot.

Cleaning a geoduck requires a sharp knife, lots of towels, boiling water, ice water, and an asthma inhaler if you have any sense of humor whatsoever. After those requirements are in place, take the sharp knife and run it around the shell, separating the meat from the shell. LOTS of water will squirt in every direction at this point.

Now cut off the neck. There isn't much left to cut on this poor little guy, since I accidentally be-necked him during the dig.

When you pry open the shell, you'll get to see the insides of the geoduck.

Then do a vivisection on the neck....way cool! See the tiny little holes to either side of the circular white center? Those actually relax out to be as big a round as my thumb. That's where the geoduck filters water down on one side and up on the other. Everything else in there is muscle.

Are you laughing yet?
Now you're ready to plunge all the body parts into the pot of simmering water. Ten seconds is all it takes to make sure the geoduck is dead and to loosen the gnarly membrane around the neck.
Scoop them out of the hot water and put them in a sink of cold water.

See that thick membrane on the surface of the neck? Yeah, we're gonna have to get rid of that.

Grab at one end and start pulling back.

Repeat for each neck.

My sister-in-law had to finish this up. I was puffing away on my inhaler upstairs. She saved the membranes by hanging them over the edge of the deck. They dried like little used....



  1. Never heard of them before....never seen them before....pass me the Ventolin!!!!

  2. This is certainly one of the most unique blog posts I've read in a while. I've heard of geoducks before, but I've yet to try one. I think I may have seen them at Uwajimaya. However, after this "tutorial" I don't think I'll be making them myself anytime soon.

    Oh, and this sentence "Crab, lobster, mussels--all of 'em eat the nasty and make it tasty." made me laugh!

  3. Wait. That's it? How did you cook them? Or did you not cook them and just eat them like that? Very interesting. I have seen those holes in the sand on the beach squirting water up - I had no clue what they are. Or that they are edible. Wait. I never actually saw anyone eating them.......

  4. Need an inhaler and some Depends...oh, yes, I do have a sense of humor ;)