• Phillip Foss

All that talk about eating Asian carp to slow its portended incursion into the Great Lakes got Carl Galvan thinking. Galvan, is the energetic, peripatetic chef-turned-fishmonger who handles sustainable and environmental fishery issues for Supreme Lobster. His Twitter feed is a virtual online fish market attended daily by many of the best chefs in town.

Millions of pounds of Asian carp are already shipped off from Illinois to Europe and Asia every year, and the beasts are fairly popular at ethnic markets around town. But Galvan wondered what would happen if some of his high profile clients got their hands on them and worked their mojo. Could they make this an appetizing fish to a larger market of eaters, and thus put a dent in its numbers?

The jury is still out on feasibility of that idea. Apart from its serious PR problem (who wants to eat a carp?) the fish is horrifying to look at. If it’s not properly gutted, it’s bloody as hell. And the Asian carp’s best defense against chefs is its damn near impenetrable bone structure.

Galvan’s campaign is slow going, but right now one chef has come out of the blocks with a plateable, menu-ready dish. A few weeks ago Phillip Foss of Lockwood gamely allowed me to film him trying to filet one of these beasts. It wasn’t pretty, but after Galvan’s fish cutters figured out a way to properly cut out and around the bones, Foss redeemed himself with this beautiful plate, an homage to Daniel Boulud’s classic Crisp Paupiette of Sea Bass in Barolo Sauce.

He isn’t going to sugarcoat this dish. It’s an Asian carp and that’s what he’s calling it, not “silverfin,” as some boosters are promoting it. Furthermore, Boulud’s technique of wrapping the fish in thin layers of potato, and crisping it in clarified butter not only protects the fish from overcooking, but really allows it to shine on it’s own terms. And guess what? It’s a rich, luscious fish, with not a hint of muddy taste of bottom you’d expect from a carp. You might imagine Foss’ elegant plating with pickled celery hearts, trumpet mushrooms and black garlic paste, and red wine butter sauce is putting lipstick on a pig, but you’d be wrong.

But will diners bite? We’ll find out beginning ? as Foss will feature his Asian Carp in a Crispy Potato Shell on his Restaurant Week menu.