Carp: Main Image

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Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Because carp has large scales that are embedded in the skin, the fish must be skinned. To remove skin, take a sharp knife and cut the skin off in strips, or dip fish in boiling water for 25 seconds, rub the skin off, and cool under running water.

To remove the head, cut through the flesh on both sides with a knife. If the fish is small, slice directly through the spine. For a larger fish, place the knife between vertebrae and tap the back of the knife with a hammer.

To fillet, use a sharp, thin knife. With the carp lying on its side, insert the knife behind the gills, and cut in an arc down to just above the backbone. Continue cutting parallel to the backbone toward the tail. Bring the knife up at the tail and remove the fillet.

To make steaks, place the carp on its side. With a sharp knife, cut slices 3/4 to 1/2-inch (1.9 to 1.25cm) thick perpendicular to the spine. Tap the back of the blade with a wooden mallet to cut through the spine.

The secret to successful carp cookery is to not overcook. Whichever of the following cooking methods you choose, your carp will be cooked when the flesh becomes opaque but is still moist on the inside.


Rinse the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fillet or whole carp in baking pan and cover with sauce made of liquid, herbs, spices, and vegetables. Preheat the oven and bake at 400°F (200°C) until a knife slice in the thickest part reveals the flesh to be opaque but still moist.


Place fillets or steaks directly on perforated aluminum foil, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm) above prepared coals or fire. Baste with butter, oil, or marinade, and close hood of grill. Cook until fish is opaque and moist on the inside, 6 to 8 minutes for fish less than 1-inch (2.5cm) thick; 10 to 15 minutes for fish larger than 1-inch (2.5cm) thick.

Pan frying

Rinse the carp, and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge in flour and seasonings. Shake off excess flour. Heat the frying pan until hot, and add butter or oil. Place the fillets in the pan and cook, turning once, until opaque but still moist in the center—2 to 10 minutes, depending upon size of the fish.

Deep frying

Into a wok or deep fryer, pour about 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) of oil; the cooker should be no more than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375°F (190° C), using a thermometer to monitor its temperature. Cut carp into similar sized pieces, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch (about 3 to 3.8cm) thick. Dip in batter, drain, then slip them into the hot oil. Cook until brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.


Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, herbs, and spices, to a simmer. Slip in skinless fillets, then cover the pan and keep liquid at a simmer for about 8 minutes per inch (2.5cm) of thickness.


Rinse carp fillets or steaks and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat fish with flour, crumbs, or cornmeal if desired. Place fish on a rack above a baking dish. Preheat broiler and adjust oven rack so fish is 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10cm) from the element. Broil, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center—3 to 10 minutes, depending on size of the fish.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.