You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Carp, Carp, Carp

The great lakes are in danger of being overrun by an invasive species of Asian carp, gigantic eating machines which devour all the plankton and thereby kill off the local habitat. Great Lakes states have resorted to all kinds of highly expensive interventions, such as electric barriers, to stop the invasion.

I've been wondering, why not just eat them? Well, others have thought of this as well. The problem is that people think of the Asian carp as a fish they wouldn't like to eat:

In China and Vietnam, the carp have been farmed and considered delicacies for millennia. But Americans confuse the foreign invaders with the bottom-feeding, stronger-tasting common carp, Dr. Dasgupta said. The Asian carp grow to weights of 50 pounds or more mainly by eating plankton, not garbage on the floor of rivers and lakes.
Their flesh is not high in mercury, contrary to what disdainful fishermen assume, and is rich in healthy omega-3 fats.

The solution? Rebrand the fish, and enlist chefs to discover ways to cook it:

In January, Louisiana wildlife officials rolled out the Silverfin Promotion, enlisting chefs to create recipes for what they called the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, the two dominant invaders.

“A cross between scallops and crabmeat,” declared Philippe Parola, a noted seafood chef whose new recipes include silverfin almondine.

Meanwhile, would-be carp exploiters in Kentucky, after trying the fish smoked, canned and in fried balls, concluded that it tasted remarkably like tuna and proposed labeling it Kentucky tuna.

Update: Brad Plumer addressed this problem a few months ago.