Why chop suey and egg foo young are losing popularity to the repulsive-looking geoduck that now graces restaurant menus in Vancouver and around the world.
There are good reasons why Vancouver is renowned for its world-class Chinese cuisine. In the last four decades, the evolution of Chinese culinary has taken a big leap with immigrant arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China.
Gone are the days when dishes such as chop suey and egg foo young top the orders of Chinese kitchens. The sophisticated palates of Asian immigrants are driving local Chinese chefs to develop creative menus integrating unusual ingredients from exotic flower petals, aquatic tuber to quirky seafood like the Pacific Northwest geoduck (Panopea generosa).
Geoduck: Ugly, but Sinfully Tasty
Why the Big Jump in Value
In the ‘70s, the grotesque looking Canadian geoduck sells at 89 cents a pound in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Today, at almost $40 CAD, a minimal wage earner in Vancouver would have to work a half day shift to afford a pound of this tasty Canadian delicacy.
High demand in China and Hong Kong has attributed for the skyrocketing price. Geoduck, known as elephant trunk clam (in Chinese) is deemed an aphrodisiac in Chinese gastronomy. This bivalve mollusk native to the Pacific Northwest is consumed as a sashimi in Japan. Koreans enjoy the clam raw with chilli sauce, sautéed or cooked in soup or stews.
Regional Delicacy Pioneers
Local appetite for the sweet, crunchy and succulent geoduck has also escalated over the years. Underwater Harvesters Association president, James Austin credits Chinese chefs and diners in British Columbia (B.C.) for pioneering this regional delicacy.
“It’s the Chinese chefs who have helped established the foundation of success in what we now call our very own regional cuisine,” remarks Austin at the recent media dinner hosted by Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant – one of Vancouver’s iconic Chinese restaurants located on the East Hastings corridor.
The evening soiree began with the serving of flavourful geoduck appetizers paired with the crisp, sparkling Italian Prosecco Brut wine. A 10-course menu followed, highlighting four decades of classic dinner fares at Pink Pearl – curated by culinary writer and broadcaster, Stephanie Yuen. Dishes were paired with wines hosted by World Wine Synergy Inc. and Summerhill Pyramid Winery.