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Even though this article and next week's are not parts I and II of the same arti.

Even though this article and next week's are not parts I and II of the same article, next week will be a continuation of this topic. I am going to accomplish a couple of different things -- to give some clarification to an often confusing topic and hopefully suggest a solution to a growing problem. The topic today is the Asian carp.

There are actually four types of Asian carp: the common carp, the grass carp, the silver carp and the black carp. Because of the negative press over the past couple decades concerning the Asian carp it is important to note that the Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys Molitrix) is the primary culprit in America's waterways today. So for this article, Asian carp means Silver carp.

These are a fresh water fish that originated in north and northeast Asia. More Silver carp are raised (aquaculture) around the world than any other species. They are filter feeders and do not feed off the bottom.

Asian carp were brought to the U.S. in the 1970s to help control the growth of algae in existing fish farms and city waste water plants. During floods in the 1970s, 80s and 90s they escaped into the Mississippi River and ultimately into its tributaries. They grow to about 40 pounds.

Asian carp have been found in the Illinois River, which essentially connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. Due to their large size and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

To prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, the state of Illinois, the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to install and maintain a permanent electric barrier between the fish and Lake Michigan.

Like me you have no doubt seen several video clips of the "flying carp" in the Illinois River. These are Silver carp and they can be dangerous. Their reproduction rate is also alarming -- so much so that the above-mentioned agencies are working to control their numbers and their range.

Very little has been written about what to do with them once you end up with a few in your boat. I have heard they could be processed for cat food or for fertilizer. These fish are being mass-produced in Asia for food, so why aren't we eating them? Truth be known, some of us ARE eating them.

When we relocated to Chatham, just south of Springfield, I was tipped off by some friends to Carter's Fish Market. Owner/operator Clint Carter and his family have been running the business in Springfield for 35 years.

On my first trip to Clint's shop I tried the walleye-pollack, which was outstanding. We visited for a while and then he asked me if would taste something. He ducked into the shop and came out with a double-handful of fish fillets. He rolled them in his special meal/seasoning mix and dropped them in the fryer, as we chatted.

He took it out of the fryer and gave me a beautiful platter of fillets. I picked-up a piece and broke it open. My first thought was that it was an ocean fish. Inside it was pure white fish, flaky and moist. It was VERY good.

I ate two fillets and then asked the obvious question. The answer was not so obvious, but by now I am sure you have figured it out. "Asian carp," was his response.

I was more than surprised ... I was amazed. I ate another fillet.

Clint takes an Asian carp fillet and makes a few special cuts, resulting in perfectly boneless meat. This he fries for his sandwiches. He then skins the remaining fillets and grinds the meat and bones into a fish paste which you can then patty and fry or bake.

For now he can make this dish available as the fish are available but be sure to look for Silver Fin sandwiches on his menu when you go there.

So the next time you are close to 19th and South Grand Avenue in Springfield, stop by Carter's Fish Market and say hi to Clint and take home some of the finest catfish, buffalo, carp and walleye/pollock you have ever tasted, fresh or fried. Call them to get your order in ahead of time at (217) 525-2571.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 7, 2018
Words:738
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