Taylor Shellfish: Eating Gonads?!

Seafood is one of Seattle’s highlights: fresh-shucked oysters, fresh-caught salmon, Alaskan king crab… You know those overly-curious diners who want to know everything about their food and where it comes from? This is how the conversation would go down:

"Where do you source your seafood from?"

"Just caught it 20 minutes ago in the ocean."

Yah, it’s that tastily fresh.

Then you have the amazing restaurants and food establishments that make it available to all of us. Enter Taylor Shellfish, one of my new favorite raw bars.

Taylor Shellfish Melrose Market Store in Capitol Hill started as a simple store that sold seafood. The staff got bored of selling shellfish all day, so they decided to turn it into an inviting space to interact with their customers through fresh dining options and lively demos. I had the privilege of meeting Tommy, one of the owners, and he said that none of them had a business background, a plan, or any idea how it would turn out. But everything turned out for the best and they have never looked back since.

Usually, it’s pretty jam-packed, but I was lucky to drop in on a slower day and have a more intimate experience with my food…

Geoduck gonads. Oh yes, we were that intimate.

For those of you who have never heard of geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”), it is one of the largest clams in the world native to the Pacific Northwest. If you have never eaten it before, I apologize for ruining your appetite with these photos - it’s definitely not for the fainthearted, but I swear, it tastes much better than it looks. It’s an Asian delicacy, so I’ve grown up eating it from time to time, but I’ve never had to actually prepare it… until I got the complete 411 from Tommy:

Step 1

Boil a huge pot of water and prepare an ice bath.

Step 2

Once water is boiling, drop the whole geoduck into the water and boil for 3 complete Mississippi counts.

Step 3

Remove from boiling water and dunk in ice bath.

Step 4

Remove the outer skin of the siphon (phallus-like looking part) by pulling…

and some more stretching…

…and wallah! It is off!

Step 5

Remove shell by cracking it apart.

Step 6

And now you are ready to slice and dice!

Typically, the siphon area is used for geoduck sashimi (most common way of eating it) and everything else is discarded. But Tommy is resourceful and uses a few other parts in a Geoduck Chowder recipe sold at the store. And then of course, he offers those adventurous enough to try the gonads!

My impression…

I thought the gonads were delicious! Tasted like a seafood version of foie gras, if you can imagine it. Creamy and slightly salty. That’s as far as I am going to go…

Then I got to eat something called the “Crystalline Rod” - beats me on what the heck it is. Tommy didn’t know either. Tasted like a salty spaghetti noodle, but instead, it was in the geoduck.

In addition to the geoduck, Jonathan and I ordered fresh oysters shucked right in front of us and the geoduck chowder. Everything was super delicious and Tommy was awesome. Extremely friendly, welcoming, and taught me so much!

They do live demos from time to time, so definitely drop by and grab some fresh oysters if you are around. They also have a hot Happy Hour deal, so bring your friends and come explore. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Gonads only in Seattle. Oh, how you never cease to amaze me…