Common carp baked in salt

I’ve only known carp as large, colorful, lazy fish that swim along the bottom of quiet pools. If memory serves me right, Ala Moana in Honolulu still maintains their koi (japanese carp) ponds, and likewise, some restaurants/hotels in Hawaii do the same as part of their exterior decor. I have never seen it on an island menu.

Common carp is noticeably different and I guess the first question is: how does carp taste like? Well I can tell you that it does not taste like chicken! Primarily bottom feeders, they get a fair amount of sediment in their mouth which, in my opinion, makes them taste a little bit muddish. MotH described them as being slightly bitter in flavor – amaro – but an ok-tasting fish overall. Kat says that in Japan, they are eaten as sashimi, in miso soup, or fried whole then simmered in ginger, shoyu, mirin.

In the opening scene of Eat Drink Man Woman a live carp – carpa in italian – is prepared with such expert precision that I was ready to slip on my chef’s jacket for a challenge. Too bad my carp was already dead, and it was decided to bake the whole thing under coarse salt. I was curious to know what it would taste like without too many distracting flavors and stuffed a cup of caramelized onions into the cavity.

Common carp
About 3½ pounds (1.5 kilo) @ 6.90€/kilo. Carp has a slimy feel, sort of like a trout or hawaiian o’opu. Speaking of o’opu (part of the Gobiidae family), their cousins in Italy are called ghiozzo or go and I hear that in Venice, they are excellent in risotto.

Carpa sotto sale
Baked in salt for about 45 minutes at 400°F. Every single fish we’ve done this way turns out incredibly moist and tender. MotH is the pro at serving whole fish. I just never learned how to do it properly without making a mess. Oh, and I did not eat the fishie eyeballs like some people do in Hawaii.

Oh gosh there's a split end in my soup?
Carp bone, and LOTS of them. It reminds me of a hook, but looks more like my split ends! One got caught in my mouth and it hurt like heck. Now I know what it must feel like when you’re on the losing end of a fishing pole. Ouch.

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