Exclusive for Friends of Earl Netwal
Defend Yourself - Don't Get Stampeded by The Money Grabbers
Discover What the Other Guys Won't Tell You...
Download & Enjoy "A Pause That Refreshes"
By Earl Netwal
Spotlight Richmond Puts a Spot Light on the Pacific Northwest
A Pacific Northwest Shellfish Primer
When traveling the Pacific Northwest region, it's very likely you will indulge in a few varieties of shellfish. It wouldn't be a trip to the area without at least one crab, oyster, shrimp, or clam meal. Along with salmon, shellfish is probably one of the best reasons to visit this region.
Even though you may enjoy shellfish in other areas of the country, or world, there are always going to be differences worth noting. Let's take a quick tour of the shellfish of the Pacific Northwest to learn a little about these delicious, and natural, resources.
Ask anyone who frequents this region and they will have one piece of advice for you; "First, get yourself some Dungeness crab. Anything else can wait." If you don't sit down to a meal of Dungeness crab, you have not officially been to the Pacific Northwest. This large, sweet, meaty crab is perfect for a leisurely gathering around a big table. Dungeness crab goes through a series of "molts" on its way to adulthood. You'll find plentiful Dungeness crab offshore in coastal waters and surrounding estuaries. In these protected waters, the temperatures are often more mild. This warmer water, teamed with abundant food supplies, can grow some very fine, large Dungeness crab. The Dungeness crab plays several roles in the life-cycle of the waterways up and down the Pacific coast, both as prey and predator. For commercial and recreational use both, the Dungeness crab forms a vibrant part of the area's economic fabric; and a delicious one!
This large, exotic oyster was introduced to the west coast of America from Japan. Because it needs warmer waters to spawn and live, this species depends on stable, protected estuaries to survive. Adult oysters prefer firm, rocky bottoms. They will attach themselves to debris or even other oyster shells. The shells of the Pacific oyster are very rough with large ridges, and can grow to be about 10 inches long. You can still find wild oyster beds in Washington State, but most Pacific oysters you eat in restaurants or 'oyster bars' will be from oyster farms.
Pacific Littleneck Clam
Because the Littleneck clam is also called "steamer and butter clam," you might suspect this is one clam that is good eating; and you'd be right. This clam is very popular, both as a commercial product and for recreation, probably because it is so tasty and easy to harvest. Coastal towns from California to Alaska have relied on this clam at times for economical survival. Pacific Littleneck clams are sold in the shell, and can be found canned or frozen, as well. Juvenile clams can move around using its foot, and prefer deeper waters. Adults, however, travel to shallower waters, where they remain sedentary, almost waiting for us to gather them up to enjoy.
Although Bay shrimp have enjoyed the spotlight on dinner tables for hundreds of years, now this shrimp is cultivated more commonly to use as bait. However, on the recreational front, Bay shrimp is often harvested for eating. They have a thin shell and a solid body, offering plenty of meat and an easy peel. The Bay shrimp is very dominant all along the Pacific coastline, and forms an important part of the food chain, feeding many species of sporting fish. The Bay shrimp flourishes, in part, because of its adaptability. You'll find this shrimp in muddy bays, or sandy bottomed estuaries, or even in deeper off-shore waters.
Part of traveling to other regions is learning about the foods indigenous to the area. If you ate nothing else but these four shellfish species, you would have a proper introduction to the flavors that make the Pacific Northwest special.