Note: Before preparing any fish from public waters, please consult your state's Fish Consumption Advisory. In Minnesota, this free pamphlet contains important health information about harmful chemicals which may be present in your catch, and specific suggestions for preparing and portioning fish meals to minimize your risk.
Throughout the world and down through history, the carp has been both the most widely eaten freshwater fish, and one of the most esteemed. Only in North America does it fail to be well-regarded, accused instead of being unhealthy, nasty tasting, and difficult to prepare.
People who regularly eat carp, however, insist that this poor reputation is unwarranted. For one, it is less susceptible to parasites and bacteria than most native fish because it is an exotic species. Moreover, few fish, rough or sport, are palatable when caught in foul water -- most carp don't taste very good simply because they are caught in polluted waters, of which they are more tolerant than most fish. If caught in turbid or polluted water, their flavor can be clarified like that of any other fish by placing them in clear running water (in a bathtub, for example) for a day. Simple preparation methods, taking care to remove all the blood, flesh, mud vein and dark meat, will also minimize any muddy flavor.
With a little bit of searching, canned, smoked, and pickled commercial carp can be found at the occasional deli and market; you may even encounter the occasional large carp on ice at your local fish wholesaler.
The following recipes are taken with permission from "Fishing for Buffalo - A Guide to the Pursuit, Lore and Cuisine of Buffalo, Carp, Mooneye, Garand other Rough Fish," available from the University of Minnesota Press.
"If you have any trepidation about eating carp for the first time, try deep-frying pieces of fillet cut to the size of dominoes. Eat the golden tidbits with beer and french fries. There's no one on earth who doesn't like this."
Prepare the fish mixture by putting 1 pound carp fillet, 1 onion, and 2 small pieces of celery through a grinder. Mix together with 4 slices white bread, trimmed and rubbed to fine crumbs, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon white pepper. Add 3 well-beaten eggs, and mix.
Drop by spoonfuls into the boiling bouillon, and cook until done (about 5 minutes). Serve with chile sauce.
Did You Know?
Sixty percent of all grain exported from the United States is transported and shipped on the Mississippi River.