Chef Ito’s mission to rebrand geoduck
Let’s be honest: the geoduck suffers from a little public image problem that starts with its rather unappetizing name. That’s why Chef Ito proposes a name change to the more palatable sounding, “King clam.” And Japanese-born Chef Ito says if diners can overcome their aversions they’re in for a pleasant surprise.
“It’s a beautifully flavored local clam, yet most people have never tried it,” says Ito. “King clam is widely enjoyed by the Japanese, especially on sushi and sashimi dish. As for me, I have been eating king clam since childhood.”
The king clam is a royal specimen indeed. The taste is distinctly sweet and the textures complex, from firm and crunch to soft and tender, opening up a range of culinary possibilities for chefs. Native to the West Coast, king clam shells range in size from 15 cm to more than 20 cm in length. Their necks, or siphons, can reach one metre in length and a single king clam can weigh as much as 8 Kg. Up until the 1970s, they were not harvested commercially in BC waters, but soon after demand from Asia sparked a lucrative trade in this giant shellfish.
“I remember when I came to Canada 30 years ago people thought I was crazy to eat raw fish. Now look at the popularity of sushi,” says Ito.
Though he doesn’t see this king of the clams achieving the popularity of sushi, let alone oysters or scallops, Chef Ito hopes to see more and more king clam on the menu. It’s local, sustainable and delicious. Intrigued diners can sample king clam at AURA, featured on the menu as one of the Small Plates; and the Raw Tasting brings a blend of Hawaiian, Japanese and Latin American cuisine to a raw seafood sampler that includes albacore tuna poke, king clam sashimi and scallop ceviche. As part of Chef Ito’s mission, he prepared king clam three different ways for the sold-out Chef’s Dinner crowd during Comox Valley’s BC Shellfish Festival this month: poke with green papaya and honey lime slaw, cake with togarashi aoili, and ceviche with shiso dressing.
About Inn at Laurel Point
Inn at Laurel Point is an elegant, Pacific Rim-inspired waterfront hotel located downtown on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. It was the first carbon-neutral hotel in BC and, Condé Nast Traveler has rated the Inn as one of the top 25 hotels in Canada. For more information about Inn at Laurel Point and AURA restaurant, visit www.laurelpoint.com.
Sample tweet: King Clam or geoduck, which do you prefer? @ILPVictoria #ilovekingclam http://bit.ly/OCBIa8
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