Carp have been eaten in various cultures around the world for millennia. In the U.S., not so much. Here, most people consider it a “trash fish,” if not worse.
My inspiration for this recipe was a YouTube video by Luke Nichols at his Catfish and Carp channel. His friend Jay cooked Luke’s very first eaten carp for him. So it’s Jay’s recipe.
Before I forget, I must tell you that you will find some bones in most carp filets. No easy way around it. So you have to be careful when you eat it, and I would not give it to children or scatter-brained adults. The fish we cooked was small and therefore had small bones. They were very thin and flexible and I think I swallowed a few without concern, rather than fish them out of my mouth. When eating fish like this, look at your food well and eat small bites. The bones are one reason carp aren’t eaten widely in the U.S.
From an article at The Florida Times-Union:
Don’t gobble fish off the bone. Rather, put a small piece in your mouth, and work it around a bit to be sure you have all flesh. If a bone sneaks in, you’ll notice right away. Simply remove it with your fingers or napkin and place it on the side of the plate.
carp filets, cut into chunks ~1 x 2 inches (we had 12 oz total uncooked, and the ingredient amounts below are for 12 oz of fish)
Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning or Old Bay Seasoning to taste (this latter is Jay’s recommendation but my local supermarket didn’t have it)
cooking oil (we used olive oil, about 5–6 Tbsp)
salt to taste
medium onion, diced or chunked
curry powder, 1/2 tsp
coriander powder, 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp
garam masala powder, 1/2 tsp
cumin, 1/2 tsp
paprika, 1/2 tsp
garlic powder, 1/2 tsp
water, 1 or 1.5 cups
Sprinkle the carp with Creole or Old Bay Seasoning and set aside for 10–20 minutes.
Sauté the onion chunks in the cooking oil over medium heat until slightly brown. Add some salt while cooking if desired (we didn’t). Then remove half the onions and set those aside.
Add the fish to the frying pan with the remaining onions and cook over medium heat for perhaps 2-3 minutes. Add a little more cooking oil now if desired. I think the idea is to sear the fish rather than cook through and through, so don’t flip or toss the fish too much. It will finish cooking later.
Turn the heat down to low and add 1 or 1.5 cups of water to the frying pan with the fish. Then add all the non-salt spices to the pan and gently stir and flip the fish until spices are evenly dispersed.
Keep heat on low, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes (or a little less if your filets are thin?).
Finally add the remaining set-aside onions and some cilantro to the pan, stir briefly, remove from heat and enjoy!
Servings: Two. Often served with rice in Bangladesh.
My son and I had a great time catching this carp, cooking it, and eating it. Thanks, Paul!
Steve Parker, M.D.