February 14, 2011
Asian carp are big, ugly and athletic. And they’re headed this way.
Wherever Asian carp go, problems follow. The invasive fish eat a lot, reproduce like crazy and grow to 100 pounds or more. When they reach critical mass in a lake or river, they crowd out native species.
Asian carp can be dangerous to humans, too, leaping high enough to smash into the faces of unsuspecting boaters and water skiers.
For obvious reasons, lots of people want to slow or halt the spread of the species from southern waterways into Minnesota. One idea gaining traction these days is to harvest Asian carp as food. Diners in China already consider the species a perfectly acceptable variety of fish to eat. There’s talk of developing a domestic market for Asian carp, too.
But the Asian carp has a gigantic image problem. They’ve been demonized as an invasive species. Who wants to eat the bad guy?
The Asian carp needs an extreme brand makeover. One first step would be a new name. There are some suggestions floating around, according to the BrandingStrategy Insider blog.
In Louisiana, wildlife officials rolled out a promotion dubbing the fish the Silverfin, and enlisting chefs to create recipes for the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, two dominant invaders.
Carp boosters in Kentucky, after trying the fish smoked and canned, concluded that it tasted remarkably like tuna. They proposed calling it Kentucky Tuna.
In Chicago, a chef at an upscale restaurant has his own solution. After failing to seduce diners to the wonders of Asian carp, even when he gave away free appetizers, the chef reintroduced the fish on local TV as Shanghai Bass.
I gave the matter about five minutes of thought and came up with my own idea: Cyprinia. That’s a twist on cyprinidae, the family of fish that includes carp. I like the sound of “Grilled cyprinia with lemon and capers.”
Catfish = Delacata
(Asian carp photo courtesy Great Lakes Fishery Commission.)