With all the talk about bowfishing, it can be helpful for you to know how to fillet a carp. Whether you have a carp or any fish, you will want to have it filleted as soon as possible. After you have filleted the fish, you will put it in a container in salt water until you’re ready to cook it.
How do you fillet a carp? To begin, you will need a sharpened fillet knife and a cutting board. Then you will make precise cuts on the carp as a way of extracting the meat from the fish. You should gut and scale the fish before you ever put it in the oven for cooking.
How to Prepare the Carp
With fish like carp and catfish, these types of fish are scavengers. For that reason, you have one extra step that you want to follow as a way of cleaning the fish further so that it doesn’t taste like mud. Some of the people who have had carp dislike it because of a bad first introduction to it. You have to cook it right, or it may not taste as good as what it could.
During this step, you will put the fish in freshwater and let it soak for a couple of hours adding a teaspoon of salt. This rids it of the mud vein and reduces the taste on the fish. Some recommend up to several days, but with bowfishing, you won’t keep the fish this long because of the injury to it with the arrow.
How to Scale a Carp
Before you begin, you will want to lay down newspapers as a way of disposing of the waste easily.
One crucial step in the process of filleting a carp comes from scaling it. Carp scales will normally be very large, and in fact, about 1/2-inch wide. You begin the process of scaling the fish by drawing your fillet knife across the body of the fish. Don’t have a fillet knife? You can buy the Bubba 9 Inch Tapered Flex Fillet Knife here, or you can go for the Bubba 110V Electric Fillet Knife with Non-Slip Grip Handle here. Doing this from its head to its tail, you will get rid of the scales. The scales can seem present everywhere as you scale the fish. You will want to wash the meat as you’re taking part in this process of getting rid of the scales.
In cleaning a carp, one of the things that you want to do is to make sure that you’re very thorough as you scale the fish and get rid of the scales. When you go to scale the fish, it does require some effort for you to get rid of the scales. You have to scrape them off, and they may fly around a little. After you have scraped them off, wash the meat to cleanse it of the scales. You don’t want that getting into your meal.
Be sure that as you clean the carp, you don’t let the scales get into the drain because it could cause an ungodly clog when it reaches a high enough scale.
Fillet the Carp
Once you have taken the fillet knife and scaled the carp, you will want to fillet it next. You want to do this before gutting the carp because of how the fish will be easier to clean up afterward. Start the process by taking your fillet knife and making a cut behind the gills. You don’t want to use a dull knife because they can be more dangerous than a sharp one.
That’s because you have to apply more pressure on the knife to make the cuts. With the added pressure, the risk increases that you will make a slip and cut yourself.
As you fillet the fish, you should especially exercise caution not to pierce the intestines. If you hit the intestines, you will know it immediately by the foul smell. Not to mention, it will waste your fish. You can’t eat it if you hit the guts.
With some of the other fish like salmon, you can fillet a fish and leave the scales on it. You don’t want to do this with carp. Because these fish act as scavengers, they have what bow fisherman refer to as a mud vein. You don’t want to eat the carp with the scales on it or the fish will taste exactly how “mud vein” sounds.
As you skin the carp, you will reach the mud vein, and you want to remove this from the fish. With the meat side pointed toward the ceiling, you will make gentle cuts to the carp, and you will continue until your knife faces sideways on the carp. You will make long and careful strokes with the knife as you make these cuts. Grabbing the skin of the carp in one hand, you will slide the knife inwards to get the meat from the fish.
Remove the Mud Vein
Don’t forget this vital step. As you clean the fish, you will make a v-cut that this meat and vein that runs along the fish. The mud vein has also sometimes been called the lateral line area of the carp. To identify the mud vein, simply look for a darker part of the meat.
If you fail to remove this, it will give the fish a stronger taste. A lot of people don’t like the strong flavor of carp, which is why you want to remove the mud vein of the carp. Like with any fish, the bigger the fish gets, the stronger the taste will become. The same is true of carp.
Slicing the Backbone and the Ribs
In the next step, you will run your fillet knife along the backbone and the ribs. After you have made the incision, you will keep cutting as far back until you have reached the fish’s tail. After you have done this on one side of the fish, you will flip it over to fillet the other side in the same way that you did the first side. As you make the cuts near the rips, be careful so that you don’t pierce the body cavity.
Deboning a Carp Fillet
Before you begin to brine the carp, you may want to debone them. These fillets will normally have one layer of pin bones in them. You can feel the line of bones on the body cavity, and you may want to remove this. To begin, you will cut it to about the area where the bones stop. Feel the meat, and you should see that you don’t have a second row of bones in the fish. You will see where the ligaments come to the surface, and here is where you will want to make cuts on the carp fillet. Then you cut into the carp and slide it off. This will remove the bones. After this, you will have a boneless piece of meat, and you can cut the fillet into the direction that you want.
Brining the Carp: A Great Process
Now that you have fully filleted your carp, you will want to brine your carp meat. Brining helps you to get a better flavor out of the carp. As a side note, you can do this for turkey, chicken and pork chops. It gives the meat a better texture and flavor. Brining your carp will infuse it with delicious flavors while tenderizing the meat as well.
Here’s a good recipe that I like to use for brining the filleted carp:
- 1 gallon of water
- 3 tablespoons of garlic powder
- 6 tablespoons of onion powder
- 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of salt
Brining will help to keep your carp moist once you put it in the smoker. During the brining process, you shouldn’t hesitate to add other herbs or spices if you want to add other flavors to it. For example, you could add fruit juices like apple to it. However, you should remember to subtract the juice from the total water volume. This ensures that you don’t affect the concentration levels.
Some of the herbs and spices that you might add to the brine include:
- Onion powder
- Rub mixes
- Liquid smoke
To begin the process of brining, you will place the carp meat into a container of salty water. The solution travels to the meat to give it a better flavor. Normally, when you brine your carp, it will wind up with a juicier flavor. As you brine the meat, it gains liquid and salt. The salt breaks down the proteins, and it gives the meat a deep tissue massage so that it has a better texture.
Once you have finished, you will cover the container gently and leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Why Carp is the Ideal Fish for Smoking
Because the carp is a large and fatty fish, it becomes the ideal target for smoking. In fact, a lot of people won’t eat carp unless it has been smoked. While people in other parts of the world like China view carp as a delicacy, the United States doesn’t like it as much. The average carp will weigh between two to five pounds, and it will 15 to 22 inches.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Carp?
The process takes up to 10 hours, but you will feel grateful that you took the time to do it as smoked carp tastes delicious. Before you begin to smoke the carp, however, you will first need to prepare it through filleting it correctly. This ensures that you get the best possible flavor out of the carp. A lot of people go wrong at the filleting part, and it is easy to do. With a little practice, however, you can get a much better-tasting fish.
You should also beware of the waters where you take it from because some areas will have more pollutants than others.
Getting the Smoker Ready to Smoke Carp
First, you will want to choose your wood chips to smoke the carp. One of the cool things about wood chips is that the species of wood you choose will have an impact on the flavor of the meat. If you want to know what will complement the carp flavor best, you might choose cherry, applewood or hickory.
Cherry—a wood species that gives your carp a mellow tart flavor. Cherry wood has somewhat of a fruity flavor.
Applewood—working on the more subtle side of things, applewood produces a sweet and fruity flavor. It’s a mild enough flavor that makes it great for carp.
Hickory—imparting a sweet and robust bacon-like flavor to your carp fillets, hickory adds a strong and tasty flavor to your fish. Keep in mind, this one can be strong. For that reason, experts advise that you combine it with some other flavors as a way of getting used to it until you find the right level that you like for it.
Soak Your Wood Chips
One to two hours before you begin smoking your carp, you will want to soak the wood chips.
Getting the Carp Fillets Ready
Next, you will remove the carp fillets from the brine and rinse them off using cold water. Patting the fillets dry, you will put them on the counter to dry for 30 minutes. Next, you will light the smoker and add water to the pan if you have a smoker with one. The water in the pan is another one of the ways that you keep the carp fillets moist while in the smoker. Before you place the fillets on the racks, you may also want to oil the racks because this keeps the carp from sticking to it.
Finally, you will put the carp fillets inside the smoker and let them get smoked for 10 hours. You will need the internal temperature to rise to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep cooking the fish for 30 minutes to ensure that they are safe for eating.
What Does Carp Go Good With?
I love to eat smoked carp with spinach and boiled potatoes. It tastes great! You can prepare them in a variety of ways, and this will influence what you should choose. If you decide to cook carp instead of smoking them, stay alert to the fact that you can easily overcook these fish, so you will need to keep an eye on them.
This is how you fillet a carp and get it ready for smoking. You can also choose to cook it, but a lot of people like smoked carp better because it has less of a fishy flavor. However, if you fillet your carp correctly, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it having that flavor. In addition, always make sure that you cut out the mud vein of the fish. Like walleye and catfish, carp have a mud vein that you want to remove to get a better flavor from the fish.