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.
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.
By TPWD Coastal Fisheries Staff