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How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp

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How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp
BARBARA CIARAMITARO:

There's six inches of snow on the ground as I write, and we're still enjoying fried fish fillets and tasty "tuna" sandwiches. Are we going into hock at the local supermarket? Not at all! Last May and June, my husband spent four days out carp shooting with our neighbor, Richard Reed. Even though it was his first attempt at bow and arrow hunting, Jim bagged enough big fellows to put 35 pounds of fish fillets in the freezer locker in town . . . with enough left over to make 14 pints of canned fillet chunks (just like tuna without the mercury).

Instructions on carp hunting are Richard's department. In this article we'll just assume you've already got your catch . . . and fill you in on how those slimy, smelly fish that are attracting every fly for miles around can be turned into a year's worth of good eating.

A two-foot piece of board ten inches wide, with a large nail driven through one end, is a great help in the skinning process . . . and you'll need a rough wooden table—far from the house but near a convenient supply of running water—to carry out the messy job of filleting. Other necessities include a long, thin, sharp knife, a pair of pliers or vice grips, a pan of salted water (half a pound of salt per gallon) for the fillets, and a bucket for the non-edible parts.

fig 1 fig 2 fig 3



First, the skinning. Hose the slime off the carp and impale it near the tail on the spike that sticks up through the board. With the point of the knife, pry off a row of scales far back on the carcass and cut the tough skin underneath. Next use the backbone of the fish to pry against as you slit the skin along the spine from the tail to the bony skull. Then open the belly from end to end, being careful not to spill the guts.

Catch hold of the flap of skin at the tail end with the pliers or vice grips and pull slowly toward the head, taking care to clean the meat off the skin with the knife if any starts to pull loose from the carcass (see Fig.. 1). An extra pair of hands is really helpful at this point: one person tugging the skin with the pliers while the other holds the carp in place and frees the clinging flesh.

Cut the meat along the spine and belly and across the skull end of the fillet, and begin to pull the flesh toward the tail, slicing it off the bony ribs as you go (see Fig. 2). Once the piece of meat is free, wash it off and put it into the pan of salted water. Then turn the carp over and repeat the process on the other side.

About the leftovers: Richard Reed uses the huge volume of eggs in the female carp as food for his flock of mallards, and we find that our chickens like the roe mixed with their mash.

The rest of the carcass makes a high-quality fertilizer. We grind the leavings in our shredder-grinder, for easier spreading and less worry about turning up sharp bones in the garden next spring. Bury the fish-wastes deep, so the dogs and cats won't dig up the patch to get at them, and stand back . . . because those plants will begin to grow and produce like nothing you've ever seen before,

Meanwhile, though, you've just cut up your first carp and will probably want to have a fresh fish fry right away. Soak the meat for ten minutes in the salted water, pat it dry, and cut it crosswise into slices the size of fish sticks. Beat one egg in a bowl with a little milk, dip the fillet strips into this mixture, and roll them in whole wheat flour or cornmeal seasoned with salt, parsley, and sage. Then get the frying pan hot and add vegetable oil or shortening. Brown the coated fish on all sides. (We mix the leftover egg and milk with the seasoned flour and add a dash of baking powder to make a dinner pancake:)

You'll find your carp feast worthy of all that labor. Carp has both. light and dark meat and is fattier than most fish, with a texture that reminds us of tender pork. The meat also has numerous sharp bones when cooked fresh and will have to be carefully picked over bit by bit before being served to young children. (Well, you knew there had to be some disadvantages!)

To prepare fresh fillets for the freezer, we simply soak them overnight in the salt water, pat the pieces dry, wrap them in plastic sacks (old bread bags work fine), push all the air out of the packages, twist-tie the ends, and drive the supply to the freezer locker.

Whole carp fillets can also be smoked. Fig. 3 shows a simple smoker we built into the side of a bank. It's made from a 55-gallon drum, the end of a large wooden cable drum, a length of stovepipe, a small, rusty heater stove, and an old oven rack. Since hardwood is scarce in Washington, we use bush maple branches for fuel. After two to eight hours of smoking at a low temperature, the carp can be eaten plain or else frozen or canned. (See MOTHER NOS. 21 and 22 for more smoking directions . . . and see also James E. Laubacher's letter on page 3 of MOTHER NO. 23, which warns against the use of refrigerator racks to hold food in a homemade smokehouse —MOTHER)

Much as we enjoy fresh fried carp, we prefer to can this meat because it makes the bones soft and digestible (a wholesome calcium bonus). Just cut the fresh or smoked fillets into strips and pack them tightly to within an inch of the top of pint canning jars. Add half a teaspoon of salt and two or three tablespoons of hot salad oil if desired. Put the cap on each jar and screw the band down firmly. Process the fish in a pressure cooker at 10 pounds for 100 minutes or at 15 pounds for 80 minutes. The finished product can be used in any recipe that calls for tuna.

That's a lot of good eating from an easily caught fish. . . and—once the messy business of filleting is over—the rest of the preparation is simple. Now that we've tried it, we think the lowly lake carp can't be beat as a source of free protein.


Bass are toys. Gills and Trout are food.
There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an Idiot
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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
as it has been stated more than once, clean like any other fish nail to a pine board and set in sun all day, remove carp from board toss carp in trash and eat boardSmileLOL this is how my dad taught me to fix them.
but seriously sounds like a good way to fix them I just don't care to eat them.

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Re: [gshadow] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
I wouldn't be surprised if carp is the number one consumed fish in the world. Maybe this summer I'll give it try and if I like it I'll feed it my friends and tell them later what it really is.


Fish ON

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Re: [hedgesd] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
Mom I didn't know you were on this form.LOL just kidding but that is something that my mom does all the time.

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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
Thanks for the info, now just need to put into practice.

"Just be humble"

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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
Are you coming to the Utah Lake Carp Fest? If you are maybe we could talk you into showing us how to do this process first hand. I have never tried carp and have never been tempted to but am always up to trying new things. I hate when people say they hate something before they have even tried it. Let us know if you are going to be there so we can force you into a demonstration.
LUVR



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Re: [fishluvr] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
tubeN2: Looks like an "official" invite to me? How's the book coming?

"Just be humble"

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Re: [FlyFishingMoose] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
The book has had several additions to it as I am getting more and more info. I would like to go to the Carp fest if I could fit it into my schedule. When is it going to be??? I have the next 6 weekends booked up.


Bass are toys. Gills and Trout are food.
There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an Idiot
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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
It's on April 10 so if you are already booked this weekend, unbook yourself and come to Utah Lake.
LUVR



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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
fishluvr hit it for you April 10! But it sounds like they might want to do it again if this outing is a success. Both you and you dad are always welcome up here. You both have so much to offer us poor fisher folk (like me) in the way of fishing knowledge that I just wish I could tap that more often. Thanks for all you give this board! I for one really appreciate it.

"Just be humble"

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Re: [FlyFishingMoose] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
I really wish that I could make it but that will be almost impossible. I will take a raincheck though. I would love to go out there and bang on some carp with my Dad. Just like the old days.

I'm sure that as soon as he moves back up there, I will gaurantee that I won't be too far behind him. We will alway be glad to help and give some good sound advice to whomever needs it.

I will also be anxious to try out some of your salsa. I have become quite a conesiour of good salsas. Especially the Habanero style. We will work something out and make sure that it is announced well in advance so that we could have a nice BFT, multistate get together.

We can hook up with tube, toons, boats and bankers all in one shot.


Bass are toys. Gills and Trout are food.
There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an Idiot
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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
I dont know about eating carp,...I caught a couple of them from willard a couple of years ago and took em home, I cooked the fillets in every possible way I could think of, and each time they all came out tasting like mud....


swimming in ice.


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Re: [FrozenFish] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
It is important to remove any dark flesh under the skin as well as soaking them in milk overnight. That will generally get rid of all the mud tast. I do that for Catfish as well. There are certain ones that have a mustier smell than others. This is a trick that I learned from TubeDude.


Bass are toys. Gills and Trout are food.
There is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an Idiot
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Re: [tubeN2] How to clean, fillet and cook a Carp In reply to
Too bad but there will be other times. I've got to back into the swing of making the salsa soon I'm running my stash out. My kid keeps taking jar after jar its like he needs it to survive. Last weekend he took 4 quarts called me a week later and asked when he could pick up some more. That was a gallon in like 10 days. Maybe he's mainlining it!

"Just be humble"