Asian carp, aka silverfin - good eating if prepared correctly?
Ypsilanti blogger Mark Maynard writes in a recent post:
Speaking of Asian carp, I find it interesting that, of the now twenty-some articles I’ve read on the subject, I haven’t come across a single mention of how the giant fish taste. I mean, I want them out of the Great Lakes - don’t get me wrong - but, at least if they tasted good, there would be something of an upside to having these giant, 75-pound missiles shooting out of Lake Michigan and killing boaters.
The surest way to keep a population in check is to eat it. Here's what I've found to help you prepare what Louisiana chefs have dubbed the "silverfin." It's traditional for Catholics to eat fish during Lent, so this is timely.
Chef Philippe Parola, Louisiana
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries produced the video below to help describe that state's efforts to keep Asian carp populations in check by finding commercial uses for the fish. The biggest problem with the fish is a series of floating bones in the filets, which calls for careful and clever cleaning techniques to make the fish marketable. For more detail, see their three part Flying Fish, Great Dish tutorials.
Chef Philippe Parola features Silver Fin recipes on his website. In his notes on "Project S.O.R. - Save Our River," he describes how successfully preparing this jumping fish requires promptly removing the blood from the fish after catching it to avoid having the fish have a gray color and an unpleasant aftertaste. The bone structure of these fish is complex, requiring either a novel deboning technique or a tolerance for picking bones out of the finished product.
Parola got a bunch of press coverage for this last month; here's an interview on NPR. The news coverage mentions commercial availability of products prepared from steamed silverfin meat, but I haven't been able to find direct evidence of availability; the stories mention Rouse's Markets in Louisiana carrying these products but the online information does not yet confirm that.
Further upstream, the Bowfishing Association of Illinois keeps a list of recipes which includes ones for smoked and pickled Asian carp. No special mention is made of preparation techniques.
A set of recipes from Outdoor Illinois goes into further details about preparation, noting that "the fat is slightly bitter and should be removed prior to cooking." They had no problem in getting samples for their test kitchen, collecting 150 pounds of fish in 5 minutes.
Researcher and experienced Illinois fisherman Duane Chapman has a 2006 video on how to filet an Asian carp, showing expert knife work and a good understanding of the bone structure of the fish. He notes that many of the bones are Y shaped, and advises to remove the red meat and discard it; he ends up with many long strips of boneless fish.
I located this guide to the silver carp on Baidu, a Chinese search engine; the link is to the automatically translated version.
The notes on cooking suggest to remove the fish liver (because it contains toxic substances).
Suggestions for further reading
Frankly, I'd start with further research into Asian recipes; the species, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, is é²¢é±¼ in Chinese. I'm not quite search engine literate enough to turn a search for that term into a set of automatically translated recipes, but I'm hopeful that my readers can help.
Edward Vielmetti eats fish on Fridays for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Â