(EDITOR'S NOTE: Deeply questioning the sanity of eating carp, but desiring the Echo to expand all our horizons, the following article on 'Carp Cookery" is printed. Scrub, you may have to have us all over for dinner to prove your point.)
Kaia and I just moved to the canyon. We love it here. Our view of the moonlight on the water I the pretty houses with their neat lawns and flowers. The friendly people. We find it hard to believe that we really live here. We feel like we're on vacation at a fancy lake resort and that we'll have to go back to that sandy-land farm in a couple of weeks.
And the fishing? It's really great! Some of the fattest and finest carp that I have ever seen. As you know, the carp is a much-maligned fish and most West Texans turn up their noses at the mention of carp. One even told me that he thought it was probably carp that Jesus fed to the multitudes, seeing as how two fish fed so many people. But this fish has a long and rich history that began in Asia and spread to Europe and America, the American variety often becoming as large as sixty pounds. .
And for many years, I too would toss this fish back. The only way I knew to cook one was by a recipe handed down by my grandfather:
Bleed, scale, and dress the carp leaving the head on (bleeding takes away much of the gamey taste). Brush the dressed carp with vinegar or buttermilk. Add salt and black pepper. Bake the fish on a smooth, quarter-inch, white pine board at 400 degrees until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Take the carp from the oven, throw it away, and eat the pine board!
But this was long ago, and I have since learned that prepared and cooked properly, the lowly carp can be a toothsome dish indeed.
Some of the more proven recipes handed down to us include: Carpe Au Bleu, Alsatian Carp with Sauerkraut, Carp Hawaiian, Braised Carp Mexicaine, Carpe de Cahors, and Sweet and Sour Carp.
Kaia and I thought by sharing some of these wonderful carp recipes, we would get started off on the right foot here at Ransom Canyon, but before your first attempt, keep in mind these general principles in carp cookery:
- Carp always seems to taste better if cleaned and prepared by female hands (make sure your wife or sweet- heart bleeds the carp properly). Does Kaia agree with this?
- Bacon grease and onions will always enhance the flavor of carp.
- Garnishment! This can often make the difference, especially if the carp is cooked whole (slices of cucumber, radishes, mushrooms, truffles, crawfish, etc).
- Break the rule! Always serve a red wine with carp (if red wine is unavailable, substitute beer).
For your next dinner party, I would suggest Carpe de Cahors, but if it's just an informal backyard fish fry, treat your friends to Carp a la Wes- Tex.
Carp a la Wes- Tex (Chicken Fried Carp)
Cut carp fillets into serving size portions. Salt and black pepper to taste. Marinate the fillets in buttermilk for ten minutes before rolling them in flour or cornmeal. Drop in hot grease and cook until golden brown. Try to achieve a fillet with a thin crust that is tender and moist on the inside.
Carpe de Cahors
3 or 4 pound carp
4-egg omelet "fines herbes" (parsley, garlic. chili powder. herbs of choice)
1 cup white wine
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
Clean and split the carp. Prepare the omelet "fines herbes" and roll it into the fish as stuffing. Sew up the carp and place it on a bed of chopped onions in a well-greased pan. Salt and pepper the fish and add the wine, Bake at 400 degrees 20 to 30 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork, Remove the fish and take out the string used to secure it. Pour off the pan juices and onions and force them through a fine sieve: Add the cream and egg yolks and stir until thickened but do not allow to boil. Pour the sauce on the fish. "Voila - Carpe de Cahors"
Get ready for a big round of applause when you place this dish before guests at your next dinner party.
Good luck with your fishing and "bon appetite," For more information, please contact Scrub Hawley, 108 South Lake Shore Drive, 745-2344.