Prussian Carp
Whole Prussian Carp [Carassius gibelio]

This carp may have originated in eastern Asia or Siberia, but is now also found through most of Europe. It is a fast breeder and can becomes a pest where introduced. This fish is often confused with the Crucian Carp, which has caused it to be accidentally stocked where it was not wanted. The Crucian is considered more desirable commercially. They can be told apart by the more golden color of the Crucian, by the more deeply forked tail of the Prussian, and the thin lining of the body cavity is black, whereas it is white in the Crucian. This fish can grow to about 14 inches (some sources say 17 inches), but the photo specimen was 11 inches and weighed 1 pound 1-3/4 ounces.

More on the Carp Family.

Prussian Carp is a fish to eat in quiet contemplation, not boisterous conversation, and it should never be served to children. You must pay close attention to the fish, because its flesh has long, sharp, thread like, "Y" shaped spines embedded in it. They are very thin and not easy to see.

Personally I don't have a big problem with the spines. As with other fish, I eat carp with chopsticks, breaking it up into small pieces as I go along. The spines are fairly easy to find and pull out that way, but some do sneak by and have to be dealt with in the mouth. Even in formal Victorian society it was permissible to remove fish bones from the mouth (but nothing else) so they could enjoy delicious carp.

Buying:   I have recently found this fish in a large Philippine market in Los Angeles (Eagle Rock, actually) for 2016 US $1.99 / pound. This market has almost always had the much larger Common Carp, but the Prussian Carp is new.

Cooking:   Most cooking methods can be used with Prussian Carp. Fillets can be pan fried with a light dusting of rice flour, but not heavy batter which would make the spines very difficult to find. For the same reason only light sauces should be used. I eat it with my favorite Lemon Wine Sauce for Fish.The flesh remains firm enough to steam and poach, but is is quite tender, so a rapid boil or long cooking is likely to break it up. You can poach fillets skin-on. They will curl, but you can lay them out flat on the plate.

Do Not cut any carp into pieces smaller than 2 inches long. Doing so makes the spines nearly impossible to deal with. For small fish, (fillets or whole) it is best to not cut them at all if possible. The larger the fish, the easier the spines are to deal with.

Scales:   The scales are large, and have good adhesion, so they take some energy to scrape off and fly about quite a bit. They curl as they dry so are easy to clean up - but don't let them get into your drains, they could clog.

Cleaning:   This fish is fairly easy to clean, just cut from the vent right up to the underside of the jaw (you'll need kitchen shears from the pelvic fins forward) and pull stuff out. While the innards pull out easily enough, there's quite a lot of them, and they are rather mushy. Rinse the cavity well, rubbing off any remaining mush. The gills are fairly easy to pull out, but break up a lot.

Skin:   Prussian Carp skin shrinks only moderately when cooked. It has no strong or objectional flavors, so it hardly seems worth the bother to remove it. If you insist, Prussian Carp fillets can be skinned using the standard long knife and cutting board Method, but be warned - the skin is thin, delicate and breaks up very easily - better to leave it.

Filleting:   This fish is fairly easy to fillet, with a coherent bone structure to follow. The flesh is, however, soft and tender, so handle with care. When you get to the rib cage, just use your kitchen shears to cut the ribs from the backbone and pull them from the fillet with long nose pliers. There are no centerline pin bones to pull.

Yield:   The photo specimen, 11 inches long and 1 pound 1-3/4 ounces yielded 8-3/8 ounces of skin-on fillet (47%). Some fish, with more stuff inside, have yielded 43% skin-on.

Stock:   Prussian Carp heads, fins, bones and any removed skins make a rather strong stock with a flavor I do not particularly like.

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