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A different kind of a fancy carp.

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    A different kind of a fancy carp.

    I get pretty dorky about lots of things. Well, cooking in particular. A while back I stumbled across this article when it was published.

    I got it in my head that I wanted to cook this. I didn't just want to cook it, I wanted to cook it in Nebraska. Not wherever else I might find myself. All the carp threads on here kind of put a fire under my butt to finally do this because I'm in the state. I spent the last month or so really researching how to do it. Google translator was my friend. I found out numerous things.

    The fish should be alive. The wood is very, very important. Pomegranate, apple, orange, and lemon are the best. Well, pomegrante is out and anything else related (I learned loostrife is in the same family), obviously no citrus wood, and I'd get in trouble if I raided my dad's apple wood stash. Online it didn't sound like apple wood was that great. Funny enough, weeping willow was liked in some areas.

    I thought about it and realized that mulberries are very popular in the middle east and the whites were probably invasive there. Success! Morus alba is used for it a lot, but not considered the best. I cleared a couple acres of mulberries last year, so I had plenty of half seasoned wood.

    The fish is seasoned very simply. There are some variations. Always turmeric and salt. Then something sour. Pomegrante molasses, bitter oranges, or tamarind seemed to be the most common. I settled on bitter orange because I thought I'd like it the most.

    The fish is best served with tomatoes, flatbread, Iraqi pickles, amba, rice, and raw onions. I used egyptian walking onions family of mine raises in the garden. I was going to make the amba, but couldn't find green mangos anywhere. I was very pleased to find Seville oranges. If anyone is actual curious I can get into details of where I found all this and exactly how I did it.

    I didn't want to use chicken wire, but it was easy and I figured a little heavy metal exposure once wouldn't kill me. I will be doing this again. I've eaten street food all over the place, and at some fancy, fancy places. This was one of the best meals I've eaten in a long time. I'd choose this over the Fat Duck in the UK.

    The inter-muscular bones of the carp came out very easily with the way it was cut. That was brilliant.

    Excellent post! I remember reading the article you linked to back in the day. It stuck with me and I think of it from time to time when I consider cooking carp. Never tried it though. Thanks for the report!


      This is awesome! I'm going to try this some day. I'd wager that native buffalo's, other suckers, and even grass carp would serve well as a substitute for common carp (if you can't find commons).


        This is really excellent, a great way to cook the carp by the lakeside; one can easily imagine a picnic at Branched Oak featuring several of these carp. Did you find that the small bones were dissolved by the heat of the cooking alone, or is it the acidity of the oranges (and tamarind--you can shine brass with it!)?
        I remember reading that French President Chirac praised this dish highly, and he's no foreigner to good food.
        O ye fountains, bless ye the Lord: bless the Lord, ye seas and floods.
        O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: bless the Lord, all ye fowls of the air
        O all ye beasts and cattle, bless ye the Lord: bless the Lord, ye sons of men.


          None of the bones dissolved. I cooked it low and slow for 2 hours until the fat was cooked from it. You can see it dripping down on the dutch oven of rice in the one picture. I didn't add any olive oil, but some do. What made it nice was how all the bones along the back lined up with where I cut the back bone out. Picking the meat from the skin was a lot easier with the scales left on too. I've never cooked a large fish like that. It was a bit of a pain getting the small bones out of the tail, but it wasn't terrible. The dark lateral line meat just stuck to the skin. I'm butterflying carp from now on instead of scoring to get the bones out. I was shocked by it.

          Traditionally, this was done with native fish in the region, but carp is the best regarded one now.

          I'll do it again, but a little different. I'll cut the head of for fish broth. The cheek and head meat got way overcooked when I tossed it on the coals skin side down, so that was kind of a waste. It does look cooler though. I'll also use dried turmeric instead of fresh. I had a ton of seville orange juice on it, but next time I'll rub it with tamarind and use the oranges after. I think that would be a little better. It was absolutely fantastic. I thought it would be pretty good, but not amazing like it was.

          I did buy the amba and was not a fan. It was more mustardy than I expected. I've cooked many ridiculous things in the past. This was really not hard and very worth it. On a scale of microwave popcorn to an open fire paella for 50 people, this was about a 4. You've just got to tend the fire. Oh, splitting the head was a little tough. I had to hammer on one of my good chef's knives with a piece of wood. I think cleaning the fish like I did and removing the backbone would be tough without some good kitchen shears (or a pair of pruners), and knives that weren't sharp as razors. I think it will be easier with the next ones. It took me a while and I'm no stranger to cleaning fish.


            Have never tried Carp...may have to now! Thanks for sharing.
            Ron Mayhew - Lincoln NE.
            N.A.F.C - Life Member
            Moderator - Nebraska Sport Fishing (Facebook)


              Vary interesting write. The only way I've made carp is from an old Nebraska land cook book. Carp paddys. I dropped the fillets in the food processor and then added egg and saltines for paddys. They were good. I really enjoy carp fishing. Just don't do it much. Guess I think I need a boat and feel the need to fish for crappie and eyes and White bass. Thanks for the good carp story.