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Geoduck MasterClass, BC Seafood Festival 2024

Dig Deep – The Geoduck, Cider & Sampling MasterClass

This weekend we were at the 16th annual BC Seafood Festival; a gathering of locally sourced and sustainable BC fish and shellfish celebrated through fine food and drinks.

Out of all the various types of events open for attendance, I found the Master Classes the most enjoyable and the most fruitful. I took away lots of tips and gained new knowledge from the award winning chefs that hosted them.

Our first was Dig Deep – The Geoduck, Cider & Sampling MasterClass. I don’t know much about the “king of clams” walking in and have been too intimated to try preparing it myself, given its daunting appearance. Although after this class it seems a whole lot more approachable.

This class is presented by the Underwater Harvesters Association, which is a non-profit association formed in 1981. The UHA represents the 55 British Columbia geoduck licence holders, 550 quota block holders, First Nations, exporters, and boat crews in managing and marketing the fishery. Ticket holders got to dive a little deeper into one of BC’s most prestigious and sought-after seafood products. We got to hear from one of the divers. Then learn how to prepare the delicacy from Top Chef Canada season 10 runner up, Deseree Lo.

Our humours celebrity chef was the perfect host. She jested and delivered on a funny class filled with dick jokes and innuendo, given the visually challenging presentation of our featured shellfish.

Chef Dez spoke to its prestige as a delicacy in Asia, and how they want to make it more accessible and seen on everyday menus. Geoducks are the world’s longest and largest burrowing calm. They have been found over 180 years old, age that you can tell by the rings on its shell.

When it comes to geoduck fishing, timing and transport arrangements are based on the packers due to their limited shelf life. If they miss the window the product’s value decreases. In Canada geoduck retails for $35 a pound, depending on the season. For example prices go up during lunar new year, summer weddings, and special occasion; although it is fished all year round. You can find geoduck locally at T&T and at the Lobsterman on Granville island.

This MasterClass debunked my pre-conceived notions. Geoduck is surprisingly easy to prepare. You dip the whole clam in a pot of boiling salted water for 10 seconds. You don’t want to over cook it as it is best on the raw side, to capture its naturally salty and briney flavour.

Once its colouring darkens you remove it from heat to shock the meat in ice water. This allows for easy removal of the outer layer of skin.

Next, we witnessed how to remove meat from shell with an oyster shucker, learning that different parts of the clam are eaten for its different textures. Once removed and the inedible stomach is sliced off you take a sharp knife down its middle to split it in two. You are advised to slice slow and gentle as to not cut yourself. If fresh, the edges will curl up and contract.

Geoduck can survive 4 days out of water and in the fridge. You can extend its shelf life by adding the giant clam back into water with a precise salt mixture.

As we watched and waited for our chef-host to prepare geoduck appetizers for the room, we sipped on Sea Cider’s Kings & Spies 8% cider. Their cidery is located on the Saanich Peninsula for 20 years, where they harvest 50 Types of heritage apples for their ciders.

This one that we were sipping in particular is crowd sourced, picked from abandon fruit. Proceeds from bottles sold go to a charitable organization that teaches kids a curriculum that includes how to prepare food and the nutritional science behind it.

Our cooked and carved to order geoduck was served along side a Vietnamese style sesame rice cracker with a spicy gochujang sauce.

The salt and pepper seasoned geoduck itself had a firm texture and a lush chew. Lovely as is, the highlight with the crisp of the thick crunch cracker, the heat of the tangy sauce, and the freshness of the peppery greens. This was the most memorable bite of the whole weekend and it raised the bar for all geoduck dishes to come.

Here, the apple cider opens up with the spicy sauce, making for a nice palate refresher with its bright bubbles.

This was a lovely start to our master class series, and had us itching for more.

For more on this year’s BC Seafood Festival and how to attend next year’s celebration, visit the link below.


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