Can You Eat Carp?

Ask any fisherman and you are likely to get a different answer when it comes to carp and whether you can eat it or what you should do with it. This is a fish that has a bit of a bad reputation in some areas of the world for a few reasons.

The main reason people might avoid eating carp is due to the fact that it is considered a bottom feeder. This means that the carp has more opportunity to pick up extra toxins. Some even claim that this affects the taste of the fish.

Despite this, it is actually possible to eat carp but you do have to be aware of a few things and prepare and cook it carefully.

The Quick Answer

Can You Eat Carp?

You can eat carp but you need to ensure it is sourced from a reputable supplier and that it was farmed from freshwater.

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What Does Carp Taste Like?

When it comes to fish, the water it lives in is important for the taste. Carp that live in very muddy waters will have a muddier and fishier taste than other carp types. However, if your water is fairly fresh, then the flesh of the carb can be white, tender and delicious.

Carp is also considered an oily fish which can affect the taste. If you don’t like oily fish, then you are unlikely to like carp.

However, if you love the taste of oily fish, like salmon, then carp caught in the right environments can have a very similar flavour.

How to Eat Carp

Before you eat your carp, you need to ensure it is thoroughly clean and prepared. Pop your carp into some freshwater for a few days to remove the mud contained within it from when the fish fed along the bottom of muddy rivers.

Add a teaspoon of saltwater daily to the tub with the fish in, and this will help draw out the mud and impurities.

Another thing to be wary of with carp is the bones. These fish have a very bony spine that, even with filleting, can be difficult to remove all the bones, so be careful when you eat it.

As with any fish, you have a few cooking and eating options. Here are our ideas:

Baked Carp

Baked fish is a delicious method for cooking fish. Fillet your fish and then pop it onto some tin foil and a baking tray. Season with a little butter and salt and wrap the fish in the tin foil.

Make sure you leave a little air around the fish and avoid wrapping it tightly then pop it in the oven to bake.

Fried Carp

If fried fish is your perfect dish, then pop some oil or some butter into a pan and let it heat up. Once the oil is hot, you can pop your filleted fish in to shallow fry.

Make sure you cook both sides and that the fish is thoroughly cooked through before serving with some veggies or a salad.

Benefits of Eating Carp

Carp is considered an oily fish which means it contains fatty acids and omega 3 that is vital for good health. On top of this, it is rich in lean protein. All of this adds up to a fish that can promote a healthy heart and circulatory system.

Just be careful that you buy carp that has been fished from freshwaters and is less likely to contain harmful toxins.

What Countries Eat Carp?

Carp is commonly eaten in China and is also a traditional Christmas Eve dish to eat in areas of central Europe. Aside from these places, it might be easier to list the countries that don’t eat carp rather than list the few that do.

In North America, carp is a fish that is seen as not worth fishing and definitely not worth eating.

In the UK, carp are rarely eaten, but there are regulations to follow with regards to fishing and particularly with regards to carp. You can fish for carp, but if you find a fish over 20 cm, you must throw it back.

There are also regulations surrounding the number of fish you can take in a day. For further information on this check the guidelines at your fishery or from the government.

Should You Eat Carp?

Whether or not you can eat carp depends on where the carp are sourced from and the size and species of the carp.

In the UK, laws require that carp that are of a certain size and over cannot be taken and must be thrown back into the water. If you have caught a tiny carp then yes, you can take this home and eat it but only if you take home less than fifteen fish that day.

Other concerns with carp are the potential toxins in it from the way it feeds along the bottom of rivers through the muddiest sections. You can remove some toxins for a fresher tasting fish, and the fish will taste and be better for you if it fished from fresh and clear water.

Other Questions about Eating Carp

Below are some other questions people often ask when it comes to eating carp. If you do find yourself with further questions, however, then please do ask in the comments area at the bottom of this page:

Can You Eat Asian Carp?

You can eat Asian carp, but they are notoriously boney. If you’re not good at dealing with bones when eating fish, then this will be one to avoid.

Can You Eat Grass Carp?

Some people report grass carp as having a far more delicate, sweeter flavour that tastes much better than traditional carp. For this reason alone, it’s safe to say that you can eat grass carp and they might actually taste better.