University of Missouri researchers are among supporters of an effort to take an invasive fish from jumping out of Missouri waterways, to your plate.
Eat MO Carp is the name of the effort to introduce Asian carp to restaurants and grocery stores, and at the same time reducing the number of them in Missouri rivers and streams.
Eat Mo Carp project member and MU graduate student Tim Wall said eradicating the fish has proven difficult, but turning it into delicious dishes could help control the population and could be profitable for fishermen.
“We can take the Asian carp problem and turn this biological bane into a banquet boon,” said Wall. “We’ve got so much of this fish that’s now available as a low cost, low fat, protein source, that I really hope people start taking advantage of it, and we can solve an environmental problem by eating it.”
Asian carp were introduced into American waterways in the late 1970s and threaten native species by competing for food and habitat. One Asian carp species, the silver carp, undermines the safety and quality of water-based activities such as fishing and boating, because the fish leaps from the water when startled. The carp are easily scared and could injure recreationists when the fish leap out of the water at the sound of a boat motor.
Wall said ground carp is similar to ground turkey and cheaper than ground beef.
“It sounds odd to be eating ground fish and things like that, but it’s a new paradigm in cuisine,” said Wall. “It’s very mild and it does pick up other flavors very easily.”
Wall said Eat MO Carp researchers conducted a blind taste test in which carp beat catfish by a significant margin.
“When you consider that catfish is the number one fish in Missouri and very high on the list nationwide, it shows that if carp can beat catfish, then it should be acceptable to people’s palates,” said Wall.
Broadway Brewery in Columbia is hosting a benefit concert for Eat MO Fish on June 6th. The brewery will be adding an Asian carp dish to its regular menu.