Number 8: Carp

12 Dec

I know what you’re thinking right now.  Those hideous, brown, bumpy sticks don’t look like fish.  And you’re right.  They’re quite possibly the ugliest things I’ve ever seen in my life and they look nothing like fish.  But, my friend, I assure you that you are looking at carp.  Well, smoked carp jerky, be precise.

Apparently, carp are the bastards of the fish world.  They find a body of water, take it over, and basically destroy the ecosystem by eating everything in sight.  They were named an “invasive species” a couple of years ago and there’s lots of talk about the threat of carp taking over Lake Michigan.  While at first the government just wanted to destroy the fish, many people are now trying to push carp as a food source.  Any why not, really?  Why kill thousands of fish and let them go to waste?  The one thing that I thought was funny about the whole thing, though, is the fact that many restaurants are calling carp “silverfin” in an attempt to get rid of the stigma associated with carp.  They think they’re so clever!

While I’ve read a ton about Chicago restaurants serving carp, I have not been able to find carp at any restaurants or fish shops.  Finally, last week, I went to a huge Asian supermarket called Super H Mart and scoured the place.  While I didn’t end up finding fresh carp, I did find a lovely packet of smoked carp jerky.  And as horrifying as it looked, I was desperate enough to buy it.

When I brought it home, the question of the day was “How on earth do I make carp jerky look pretty???” Maybe I could put it in a mug and have the Christmas tree in the background?  No.

Maybe I could lay it daintily on top of a colorful kitchen towel?  No.

The fact of the matter is, there’s no making this stuff pretty.  It looks almost exactly like those weird, dried-out pods that you find on the ground outside.  See?

After giving up on photo-taking, it was time to taste the jerky.  Before I could even taste it, I noticed the smell.  It smelled UH-MAZING, like a bonfire mixed with pork ribs.  Gorgeous.  The flavor was very smoky and spicy, with a slight hint of fishiness.  It was more tender and moist than beef jerky, and it also needed to be refrigerated, unlike beef jerky.  Perhaps it’s prepared differently.

As much as I enjoyed the flavor of the carp jerky, there’s just something about it that turned me off.  I mean, it’s just so ugly!  And sometimes there were black, rubbery strings that fell off of it…I just had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I was eating something I shouldn’t have been eating, and that’s tough to ignore.  Overall, I say try it.  Keep your eyes closed, but try it.


7 Responses to “Number 8: Carp”

  1. Miss Angie December 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I think they look DElicious! YUM!

  2. IntenseGuy December 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Silverfin sounds like some sort of nasty bug infestation to me…

    I’ve never heard of smoked carp jerky… Those Asians like to dry out just about anything – I recall having squid (potato-like in appearance) chips… and Octopus Flakes (which also looked like potato chips) but tasted nothing at like potato chips – which is what I thought they were until two giggling Asian school girls practicing their English spoke to me and told me what I was eating!

    Hmm… I wonder if someone has a list of ugly foods that actually taste good – somewheres…

  3. Rach December 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Hooray for ugly food that tastes good, haha! 🙂

    And how cool that you live in Chicago! We were definitely at the Christkindlmarket on Saturday! What a small world. 🙂

  4. Laura in Cancun December 13, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Oh my gosh, I cracked up at the Christmas tree photo!

  5. Amy December 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    I LOVE H Mart!! I used to live by one in Denver I went there all the time. I can’t believe there’s a “super” version!

  6. Becki D. December 16, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Dehydrated fish sticks?!

    Just say no, man!

  7. Cathy December 28, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Oddly enough I know way more than I should about the carp industry. There are 2 carp fisheries very near to me. They both send thousands of tons of carp over to asia every year. It’s quite the booming business in these parts. I have yet to eat carp. I highly doubt I ever will.

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