At the recent 2014 Riverland Field Days, the Katfish Reach team took up the challenge to cook and serve carp that would taste really good. European carp is not commonly listed as the ‘catch of the day’ on menus in Riverland restaurants and hotels. At the suggestion that it could be served up for dinner, people are likely to turn up their noses as they imagine the slimy skin, bony flesh, unpleasant odour and muddy taste.
Too often, carp is given a bad rap, and the Katfish Reach team was convinced there was a simple and easy way to catch, clean, prepare and cook carp that even the most cynical would find enjoyable. The secret to pleasant-tasting carp is to place the fish in an ice slurry as soon as they’re caught. This slows down blood circulation, which is responsible for the ‘muddy’ taste. The fillets are then cut, and the skin removed; it’s easy to see the blood lines, which need to be avoided. A small piece of flesh can be cut along the bottom and top of the fillet; this is bone-free and perfect for eating.
The carp fillets were lightly floured and cooked in butter and lemon. This wasn’t done to mask the flavour, but to enhance the taste, so it was not bland and boring.
More than 5,000 people visited the Natural Resources SAMDB tent at the Riverland Field Days and more than 200 tasted the carp, which was cooked by Amanda Brand, a member of the Katfish Reach team.