How to Clean, Fillet and Cook Carp

Barbara Ciaramitaro explains how to clean, fillet, and cook carp.


| May/June 1975



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Figure 1 skinning the carp.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Special Carp Catchin', Cleanin' and Eatin' Section 

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.

How to Prepare and Cook Carp

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.

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 Figure 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.





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