How To Cook A Carp

Many American anglers think of the common carp a rough fish, not fit for human consumption. In many parts of the world, however, the carp is held in high esteem as a food fish. If the catch is properly cared for, it can make a delicious addition to the menu.

Bringing Home the Fish

Like all fish, carp spoil easily. It's best to gut, gill and ice them down within a short time after catching. Be sure to remove all the blood along the backbone and from the body cavity as this blood causas faster spoilage. Some experts claim the flavor is improved by cutting the tail off and allowing the fish to bleed before cleaning it, and by removing the dark meat along its side before cooking by any method.

Since most people agree that the skin tends to add a strong, fishy flavor, you will probably want to skin your carp. The fish can then can be filleted, halved or left whole for stuffing and baking. Regardless of whether it is to be fried or baked, the carp should be "scored." Slice two-thirds of the way through the meat every 1/8 to 1/4 inch with a sharp knife. Scoring allows heat and cooking oils to penetrate and soften the fish's many small bones.

Cooking Techniques

Deep-fat Frying

Dip scored carp pieces into a batter, place in the hot oil and cook until they are a crisp, deep golden brown. For a variation on your usual cornmeal batter, try dipping the fish in a milk, egg, salt and pancake flour mixture.


Carp can be baked whole or in pieces, but it should be basted occasionally with something such as lemon butter. A four-pound, scored carp will take about 45 minutes to cook in a 350-degree oven. Several strips of bacon laid over the fish will eliminate the need for basting. A whole fish can be baked with the following stuffing:

Cook celery and onion for a few minutes in the butter. Mix the other ingredients and add them to the butter mixture. Wipe dressed fish with damp cloth and salt lightly inside and out. Stuff with dressing and sew or tie with string to retain stuffing. Place in preheated oven and bake at 375 degrees for one hour.

Additional Recipes

Serbian Carp

Roll carp in flour seasoned with salt and red pepper. Sear in butter. After removing carp, saute' onions and mushrooms. Add tomato paste and a little water. Put carp in and stew until well done.

Carp Cakes

Mix carp, potatoes, bacon grease, butter, salt, pepper and paprika; then add beaten egg, Shape into cakes and pan fry in hot grease until a golden brown.

Carp Stew

Fry bacon in a dutch oven or small kettle until crisp. Add other ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

Carp in Beer

Mince onion, add celery, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, beer and salt. Bring to a boil. Cut carp into pieces and place in the sauce. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on low fire. Remove carp from sauce and thicken sauce with gingerbread crumbs. Strain sauce and stir in butter. The sauce must be creamy and hot; pour it over the carp.

Carp Chowder 1

Simmer carp, onions, celery, thyme, salt and pepper slowly in water for 30 minutes. Thicken with a mixture of butter and flour.

Carp Chowder 2

For this recipe, fish needs to be pre-cooked, chilled and then separated from the bones.

Cook the onion and parsley in the fat until tender, add flour, then the milk, gradually stirring until slightly thick. Add fish and potatoes and heat through.

Pickled Carp

Scoring is not necessary for this recipe, because the vinegar breaks down the bones. Cut fish into chunks small enough to fit in canning jars and soak them overnight in a half-vinegar, half-water solution. Drain and put pieces in a boiling solution of 3 cups vinegar to 1 cup water. Add spices to taste such as cloves, allspice, mustard seed, salt and pepper. Add lemon slices and boil until the fish is done. Place pieces in sterilized jars, cover with sliced onions, add the boiling liquid and seal the jars.


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