I have had very few experiences eating carp, twice to be exact. The first time, I prepared it myself. The second time, I went to a place call Wild Bill’s Bar and Grill in Rulo. The first experience didn’t impress while the second was delicious. I thought it tasted just as good if not better than any fried fish I have ever had.
I have yet to master cooking carp, but here a few things I learned from my first carp cooking experience, and also hints that I’ve gathered from talking to fishermen and those who like to eat it.
1. The carp that I prepared came out of the Missouri River by Gavin’s Point. I was told by the fishermen there that if you’re going to eat carp, fish for them in clean, flowing water. Standing water, especially in little ponds, can produce “muddy” tasting carp.
2. The mistake I made in preparing my first carp was underestimating its Y-bones. And because of that, I did not score the carp. If you’re squeamish about little fish bones, like I am, scoring is extremely important. It allows hot oil to get into where the bones are located, turning it crisp and completely edible. Here’s a great video on how to do that:3. I also think that scoring the meat allows for more thorough cooking, which makes the meat less mushy. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but there was a considerable difference between the carp that I prepared that was not scored and the carp I had at Wild Bill’s. Taste-wise, carp is good, but if not prepared correctly, its texture can be unappetizing to some.
4. Smoking and pickling are great ways to prepare carp. I imagine that the smoking improves its mushy texture and pickling will soften its Y-bones. Smoke carp the same way you would smoke other fish- scoring not needed. I find it much easier to sort through bones when fish are smoked.
5. When skinning carp, cut around the scales– do not try to cut through the scales. Common carp have scales like armor, and it can dull your knife very quickly. Not only that, trying to fight through tough scales while holding a slippery fish is a perfect recipe for spewing arteries.
Cleaning and cooking carp may be a little bit more work compared to other fish, but the effort is worth it and they can taste pretty darn good. If you’re not going to do it for your taste buds, then do it for our water systems and for the other fish you like to catch. We have a problem with carp in the United States. Why not try to eat this problem away?