Friday, June 19, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen we got 'em: carp patties.

Long thinking about how to eat carp.  Plentiful protein source.  Bottom of the hill.  Concentration of accumulated pollutants in the flesh is relatively low.  Eating some fraction of the fish one catches further grounds the undertaking in a hunt.  To be clear I've never thought much of the suggestion that "we no longer need to hunt or fish to get food."  The truth value of the statement is not the subject matter in which I'm interested.  I remember reading that Earl Butz said [paraphrasing] this in reference to the industrialization of agriculture: now the vast majority of the people in this country can be relieved of the drudgery of growing their own food.  It's never been clear to me what that relief would offer and why it's necessarily a good thing.  Very few people grow a significant fraction of their own food but I don't think all folks would call this a good thing.  We are as busy as some; not as busy as others; busy enough though, that we don't have the time to engage a significant food production on our property.  Nor do we have the space.  We use perennials (grapes, nuts) and grow garlic, peppers, lettuce and maybe some beets.  We could do more but not a lot more.  The proportion of our total food consumption that is produced on our property is less important I think than the simple presence of the garden, the compost, the chickens: linking them together.  WB sums this up well in an essay:
"Participate in food production to the extent you can.  This doesn't mean plowing up the front lawn and planting cabbage. A small vegetable garden, a couple of tomato plants, even a pot of herbs can provide the sense of responsibility for your own food. Tending a garden and managing a compost system also puts you into the natural cycle of growth and decay. Knowing the blend of sun, water, and effort that produced the tomato you're eating makes you appreciate it even more."
As such I like to think about how to eat fish.  How to further bind oneself to the stream system.  No omnipotent figure placed fish in sacred fashion into the streams; the individual fish hold no status that is greater than that of the stream itself.  They are outgrowths of the land and the water like anything else; their beginnings are in the mineral matter synthesized and bound together by the miracle of primary productivity.  They owe a toll to chloroplasts just like anybody else is what I'm saying.  So for me the treatment of the land is of greater concern than the treatment of an individual fish.  That said, nearly every fish I encounter is released.  But some are struck in the head with focused violence and taken home. 
This is derivative of a jewish recipe; approximately:
2 lbs carp fillets
2 eggs
Chopped cilantro
onion (we used chives from the garden because had no "onions")
corn meal or motzah powder ~1/3 cup
lemon juice 2 tbsp
lime juice 2 tbsp maybe
some oil for frying
Method notes:
(1) A ~7 lb carp yields approx 2 lbs of fillet total.  Bury the big heavy head and guts in your yard somewhere; eat it later in another form.
(2) Main note is this: a few sources out there suggest processing the carp flesh before cooking it.  My recommendation is to cook it first.  Here is why: the floating bones are near impossible to extract before cooking.  Unless someone out there knows a good means of slicing them out.  Cook the meat first.  Same deal with pike: why go to the hassle/waste of removing Y-bones?  Cook the fillets.  Cut parallel to the lateral line; use your hands to grab the y-bones and pull them all out; throw them on the ground.  So here, cook the fillets, and then mash up the meat.  The bones are obvious and can then be removed by hand. 
(3) In this instance I cut out some of the darker meat.  Buried it instead of eating it.  You can see in the pics that I did not cut out ALL the darker meat.  This was the collective suggestion of a number of sources; thought being this decreases carpy/oily character.  Good discussion there re whether or not one wants to "decrease" the very character of the animal being consumed; not always, but if you are used to eating trout, crappies, etc. the carp taste may be a moderate struggle; the patties here are an example of minimizing the original "taste" and utilizing the protein source in a seasoned/flavorful recipe.
Cut up fillets.

Picking out bones; took about 4-8 minutes.

Get the kids on the chopper.  Fresh herbs from the dooryard.

Mix it all together in a big bowl.  Didn't stick together really well with one egg and my wife said add another so I did.

Fry them like any other burger.  They wouldn't work on your grill unless you used a sheet of foil underneath. 

There it is.  The flavor is mainly cilantro and lemon/lime.

Pretty girls like carp.  I asked for her unbiased opinion.  She called this a great success.  Kids ate one each too.  We didn't have any bread, but I think if you put this in a kaiser roll with slab of onion; good deal there.