The very idea of eating carp is something which will be extremely off putting to many people familiar with the fish. Carp are often considered to be ornamental fish, contained in the ponds and pools of exotic gardens, growing to impressive sizes in the course of a lifetime which can span decades. Their thick, scaly skins and the number of bones contained in the meat are further negatives for sport fishermen even more in tune with the nature of the fish and carp are usually therefore returned unharmed to the water from which they are caught.
Cooking and eating carp is popular from Eastern Europe, across Asia, as far as China. Generations of people have learned how to scale carp, skin them and prepare them for cooking in simple ways that allow them to be enjoyed in a manner similar to many other types of fish. For this reason, it is important for anyone considering cooking fresh carp to know the techniques required in this respect, or arrange for them to be carried out on their behalf.
Carp is delicious deep fried in either breadcrumbs or batter. The fillets should firstly be patted in flour. If frying them in breadcrumbs, they should then be drawn through beaten egg before being patted on both sides in breadcrumbs. If frying them in batter, pat them in flour before dipping them in the batter and allowing the excess batter to drip back in to the bowl. Deep fry the carp fillets in moderately hot oil, for four to five minutes, until the batter or breadcrumbs turns beautifully golden. Serve with a green leaf salad and wedges of fresh lemon.
Carp fillets are delicious baked in the oven in many ways but a problem can be encountered with them drying out during cooking. For this reason, try laying the fillets on a large sheet of foil, seasoning them with salt and black pepper and pouring over a little fresh chicken stock. Wrap the foil to form a sealed but loose tent, which keeps the steam created by the stock in the package and the fish moist. Bake at 350F/180C for twenty-five to thirty minutes, depending upon the thickness and size of the fillets. To test whether the fillets are cooked, very carefully unwrap the foil and use a skewer to test for resistance. When the fillets are cooked, the skewers should pass through without any difficulty. Where resistance is encountered, further cooking time will be required.