Asian carp invading Elgin -- on a plate
The invasive Asian carp is coming to Elgin on Saturday, but thankfully it will be on a plate.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will feed Elgin-area families an Asian carp meal and conduct free Asian carp cooking demonstrations and tastings for the general public from noon to 2 p.m. at Dream Hall, 51 S. Grove Ave.
The event is presented by state Sen. Cristina Castro and state Rep. Anna Moeller and co-hosted by Dream Hall. Complete Culinary Executive Chef Chris Koetke will demonstrate the best ways to prepare Asian carp.
Asian carp -- bighead, black, grass and silver varieties -- has a mild taste, Koetke told the Daily Herald recently during a similar event in Aurora. It's similar to bass or crappie with firm, white flesh.
"This fish comes with a lot of preconceived notions about what it is and what it's not," said Koetke, a former executive director of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. "It's absolutely delicious."
After the demonstrations, Asian carp meals will be delivered to families in need at the Elgin Cooperative Ministry's Saturday Soup Kettle and to those sheltering at the Community Crisis Center.
Asian carp are nonnative fish intruding on lakes and rivers in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes regions, but are eaten across the world and actually farm-raised in Asia. Asian carp have high levels of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and iron, and are a high-quality protein source surpassed only by wild-caught salmon. The fish was recently recommended for consumption by Seafood Watch -- a highly respected program developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to assist consumers and businesses in making healthy choices for the environment.
The Asian carp pop-up kitchen will feature a short cooking demonstration, so registration is required as space is limited due to Illinois' Phase 4 COVID-19 restrictions. For information, call IDNR Director of Outreach Ted Penesis at (847) 608-3108.