(Serves 2 – Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Wesley Hood, AQUA by El Gaucho)
I was introduced to geoduck fritters at Xinh Dwelley’s restaurant in Shelton. Xinh’s talent with this giant clam might be unrivaled, and I was fortunate to have dined in her eatery before she retired. When I learned her Clam and Oyster House was shuttered I fretted her fabulous fritters were never going to be tasted again. It was certainly a sad time for epicureans in the PNW.
I asked if I could include her recipe in my book Eating the Pacific Northwest . Xinh politely declined, but only because—lucky for us—she is saving that recipe for her own cookbook. (And when it comes out, treat yourself and buy a copy; her geoduck fritters and curried mussels are pure gastronomic gold.)
In the meantime, I found Chef Wesley Hood, and if Xinh can be considered the Queen of the geoduck, then Wes is King. Wes is the Executive Chef at AQUA by El Gaucho, a Seattle waterfront seafood house that Gayot ranked as one of the ten best in Seattle in 2016. Wes’s geoduck fritters are a crowd favorite at AQUA, and, luckily for any foodie not in the Seattle area, he shows how easy they are to make in an instructional YouTube video—including how to properly shuck and clean a geoduck. (Check out El Gaucho’s YouTube channel for this and other fantastic recipe tutorials. Just watching Wes’s video reignited my passion for this simple yet utterly delightful seafood appetizer.)
Here is Chef Wes Hood’s recipe for geoduck fritters:
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grain mustard
2 cups canola oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons shallots, minced
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons cornichons or dill pickles, minced
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Tabasco hot sauce
2-3 cups flour
3 cups panko bread crumbs
Peanut, grapeseed, avocado, or any neutral flavored cooking oil suitable for deep frying
Geoduck “belly” meat (see recipe Xinh’s Geoduck Ceviche for cleaning and separating geoduck)
Generous pinch each of sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chives, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the two mustards until thoroughly combined and the mixture begins to pale in color. Slowly add the oils while whisking to emulsify. Add the lemon juice and continue to whisk until the sauce has the viscosity of a mayonnaise. (You can add a little water if the sauce is too thick.)
Now add the salt, shallots, capers, cornichons, chives, garlic and hot sauce into the bowl and whisk together until combined.
Begin by setting up your breading stations. Place the flour in one bowl and then beat the eggs with a fork in another bowl. Pour the bread crumbs into a third bowl.
Pour cooking oil into a large skillet to a depth of about ¼-inch. Heat the oil to 360-degrees over medium heat.
While the oil is heating, slice the geoduck belly into 1/8-inch thick strips. With one hand (your “dry” hand), dip a geoduck piece into the flour. Shake off the excess flour and then drop the strip into the egg wash. With the other hand (your “wet” hand), remove the clam from the eggs and dip it into the bread crumbs. Using your “dry” hand, pack the panko onto the meat. Repeat this process until all the geoduck pieces are breaded.
Gently drop the geoduck into the hot oil and fry quickly—about 15 seconds or until breading begins to turn golden brown. Quickly remove the pieces from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined mixing bowl. Season the geoduck fritters with a pinch of salt and pepper, some chives, and a squirt of lemon juice from a wedge or two.
Divide the fritters onto two small plates and garnish with additional minced chives and lemon wedges. Spoon the rémoulade into two ramekins and serve.