How to Clean, Prepare & Cook Carp in 6 Easy Steps

Written by Patrick in Fishing
Image Credits: Pexels.com

Needing to know how to cook carp?

You’re in the right place.

Let’s clear one thing up before we get started. I’m not an expert in this area. I learn something new each time I go through the cleaning, prep and cooking phase.

A lot of you like to know if you can eat carp before even diving into trying so maybe that blog post is a better starting point.

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All I’m attempting to demonstrate is what’s worked for me and how you can make a carp taste good as well..

In this blog post, we will cover the cleaning, preparing, cooking, frying, and much more.

Carp has been regarded as one of the fish in today’s angling world that’s on the less desirable end of a tasty dinner.

That’s no fun to me and makes carp fishing seem like its less desirable as well, and that’s just not true.

I tend to disagree with this and 100% believe carp can be turned into a nice fish fry for you and the family friends.

You just need some detailed steps of the process along with some good recipes to get to the point where cooking carp is worth the final taste test in the end.

It’s not all that difficult but depending on your methods, the result can have drastically different outcomes.

As far as recipes, you may have your own or found another on the internet but in case you haven’t, we will provide you a few recipes toward the end of this blog post.

Enough small talk let’s start discussing how to clean and prepare the carp.

6 Steps to Clean, Prepare & Cook Carp

The first and most important piece of the puzzle with cooking any freshwater fish is cleaning and cooking it as soon as possible.

Step 1: Cleaning & Preparing the Carp

If you just caught your carp, you can use some form of a bucket, plastic container or your bathtub to keep it in water and alive for a few days.

This is key for carp because you need to allow the “mud vein” to clean itself if you want the carp to really taste good.

If you want to skip that portion, that’s fine, just don’t comment below that it didn’t taste very good because it’s likely to happen if you skip this key step.

Once you have your fish in the water waiting a few days for the next step you can add a small portion ( a spoonful of salt) to the water mix to help clean the fish and speed up the process.

Your goal in this process is simply to detox the fish so make sure you don’t feed the carp anything otherwise you are virtually starting from scratch each time you do.

Step 2: Time for the poor fella to meet his maker

Step 2 is going to be the death of the carp you recently caught.

You obviously want to do this somewhat humanely and cleanly.

Pin the carp against the wall of whichever container or tub your using and stun it with a hammer with the opposite hand of the hand holding the carp against the wall of the container and or tub.

Step 3: Gutting, Scaling and Cleaning the Carp Explained

Let’s start with scaling the carp. You will notice the scales on the carp are much larger compared to other fish species.

Sometimes up to 6/10 of inch wide.

In this step, you want to simply use a knife and press firmly starting at the head of the carp.

Press and continue to apply pressure all the way to the tail of carp until all scales are removed.

After all, scales are removed. Rinse off your delicious Carp and move onto step 4.

Step 4: Filet the Carp

Using a sharp enough reliable knife. Press behind the gills of the carp.

This should be fairly to easy to pull back once steaming along. Don’t use a dull knife to complete the part of the process.

How to Cook Carp- Filet the Carp Phase 2

Now we need to slice the backbone and the ribs.

Once you have this incision complete, lift the knife and press the knife towards the tail.

Once you have completed this step, you can flip the fish over and repeat the steps on the other side or for the other filet.

Side Note- Attempt not to pierce the fish body cavity during this process.

Step 5: Skin the Filets of the Carp

This is where carp can be completely different than other fish when it comes to fileting and cooking them.

They have what’s known as the mud-vein so it’s important to skin these fish compared to other fish you commonly cook such as salmon with the skin intact.

All you need to do is start cutting gently along the fillets until you can rest the knife sideways into the slit.

Carve with some decent pressure applied toward your tabletop or cutting board and hold the skin back with your opposite hand.

Step 6: Now you can remove the mud vein

Make a v-cut on either side of the line that runs through the middle of the filet.

Remove the vein that lays or runs along this section of the filet.

Congratulations.

Now we can move onto to cooking the carp.

Typically, you want the heat no greater than 350 F. You can use a variety of seasonings for carp, but you can start with butter lining your pan dish and some lemon pepper seasoning for beginners.

You can also opt to trap heat and line the top of the carp filets with foil.

Now let’s dive into different versions of eating carp or different cooking methods we can choose.

Brining The Carp

Now you need to brine the carp to get the fish ready for smoking the following day.

Here’s a simple recipe:

  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 1.5 Cups of Salt
  • 1.5 Cups of Brown Sugar
  • 3 Table Spoons of Garlic Powder
  • 6 Table Spoons of Onion Powder

After covering all carp filets with the brine, cover loosely and refrigerate again for 24 more hours.

Now it’s time to finally smoke the fish. Depending on the smoker you use, you need to either fill your hopper or prepare your woodchips.

Next, you will want to remove the wrap from the carp filets and rinse them off.

Smoke the carp filets for at least 10 hours or until reaching an internal temperature of 180 degrees.

Congratulations you have completed a delicious carp meal and they are ready to eat.

Smoked Carp

The fatty trait to carp makes them an ideal candidate for smoking.

This is a lengthy process compared to other methods but well worth the wait.

I don’t think anyone reading this blog will disagree that smoking a carp may be the most flavorful tasty way to eat carp.

Next word of caution, make sure you followed the cleaning and preparation steps in phase 1 as accurately as possible to ensure the best tasting carp for any of the methods we discuss.

Especially the step detailing the removal of mud vein.

Pick your seasoning of choice and generously apply salt and or sugar to the filets and airtight wrap them and refrigerate them overnight.

Fried Carp

Here’s an easy recipe for Fried Carp Nuggets or Filets

Ingredients Needed

  • Carp Filets
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup biscuit or pancake mix
  • Salt
  • Oil for Deep Frying
  • Some form of your favorite seasoning. Lemon Pepper is very common.

Not to beat a dead horse but the same applies to fried carp.

Make sure all the cleaning and preparation was done correctly.

Most importantly yet again, the “mud vein”.

Step 1:

Find a dish and place the carp filets in the dish and pour the cup of milk over them.

Allow them to sit for roughly 30 minutes and then turn them over and repeat on the opposite side.

Step 2:

Mix the salt and pancake or biscuit mix together.

Step 3:

Fry the carp on a frying pan or deep fryer until golden brown and generously add your favorite seasoning.

Enjoy your deep-fried carp!

Grilled Carp

This method is easy.

Again, make sure the preparation and cleaning of the carp were performed correctly.

Pick your favorite seasoning and coat the filets accordingly.

Decide how long you would prefer the seasoning to soak into the meat. Then go ahead and get your grill on! You have earned it.

Always keep in mind that a carp is just like any species of fish in many ways.

The time of the year, the water source the carp was captured from and the overall size of the carp makes a big difference on how tender, and what flavor you may be able to expect for the overall outcome of your cooking efforts.

I have found that carp caught during the warmer months of the year tends to be less dense or chewy than cold water carp or carp caught during the winter months.

I could be completely off base with this logic but it’s just my personal experience thus far in the catching, prepping and cooking carp days I’ve encountered.

Here’s the next section of this blog for those still interested in alternative recipes for cooking carp.

More Awesome Recipe For Carp

I’ve tried many recipes online for carp and a few of my own successes and failures and this was by far my favorite tasting recipe to date.

The Drunken Carp Recipe from Food52.com

  • 1 Gutted and Washed Carp
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Lemons
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 5 Carrots
  • Salt and Pepper

Follow the these steps:

  1. Line Your Cooking Pan with Tin Foil
  2. Take your carrots, garlic cloves and onions into a bowl and mix together after 
  3. Stuff the inside of the carp filet with the stuffing and place some olive oil on the pan
  4. After making shallow cuts along the filet, place lemon slices inside the filet
  5. Cook other potatoes on the same pan with the fish
  6. Bake at 350 F for 60-70 Minutes.

Enjoy your carp!

Hopefully the question of “How to Cook Carp”? has now been answered for you and you feel confident embarking on the cleaning and cooking process on your own.

We have covered how to clean to prepare your carp, how to cook your carp in a variety of different ways and listed a few top recipes that will make you have the best- tasting fish at the next local carp fry.

Many more methods exist for cooking carp, I just haven’t ever dived much into them so didn’t want to speak in depth on topics I wasn’t familiar with or act like I had any knowledge on an area of cooking carp that I really just don’t.

I would love however to learn other experiences and methods of how to cook carp or how to clean carp from you so make sure to leave a comment below and let me know even better methods or tricks of the trade of tasting some better carp in the future!

As usual, until next time.

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Author Bio
Patrick Author BonfireBob

My name is Patrick, and I am the main Author and owner of BonfireBob.com

I live in a smaller town, very close to a bigger city and I love the Outdoors!

BonfireBob is my outlet, and my escape from the every day lives. I write about fishing, hiking, climbing, gear, camping and much more, enjoy!

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