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Wis. Bistro Serving Up Carp Du Jour

By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

TREMPEALAU, Wis. (WCCO) --  The fight to keep Asian carp out of Minnesota lakes and rivers seems to be a battle we may not win.

Just last week a big head carp, a type of the Asian carp, was fished out of the St. Croix River. But there is one idea for keeping the carp population under control.

Mrs. Sippy's River Town Bistro is a place known for a good burger, but it's also known for its breakfast -- and one dish always gets a reaction.

"Half the people see it on the menu and joke, but the other half who know, really enjoy it," said Max Wilda, chef and owner of Mrs. Sippy's River Town Bistro.

Carp is not typically a fish you see on any menu.

"It's unusual, but it's wonderful," said Dick Sacia, a customer.

Wilda may be a pioneer when it comes to carp-dish dining.

"Smoked carp has been a childhood favorite of mine," said Wilda.

But there are others who hope the trend takes off, especially with concern of Asian carp reaching Minnesota waterways.

"It's not going to solve the problem, but will help. You can see other fish have been fished almost to extinction," said Reggie Mcleod, who is the editor and publisher of Big River Magazine.

Mcleod even started a carp recipe contest in his magazine. The goal? Make carp the next walleye.

"We started the contest two years ago and the first two years, we had no entries," said Mcleod.

Part of the challenge of marketing carp as a dish is the stigma. The fish are bottom feeders, but so are other popular seafood and fish, like shrimp and catfish.

While it may not have the appeal of a trout or salmon, carp is selling well at Mrs. Sippy's Bistro.

"It's got a strong flavor, but smoking it gives it a savory flavor I like a lot," said Paul Owecke, a customer who enjoys the carp omelet.

Wilda said he knows not everyone is on board.

"I think it'll take some time to win people over," he said.

But he's ready for the challenge. He's already thinking about his next carp recipe.

"I might do a carp cake, like a crab cake, see how it goes," Wilda said.

Big River Magazine is once again hosting the Carp Connoisseur contest.  This year Mcleod expects at least two entries.

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