How to Clean Carp for Eating

by Matt Koble ; Updated September 28, 2017

Preparing a carp for cooking is surprisingly easy.

Carp image by davork from

Carp is a type of fish that is commonly safe for eating. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, carp caught in unpolluted water is a tasty fish considered to be a delicacy among many cultures. Illinois' Department of Natural Resources illustrates that preparing a carp for cooking is relatively easy and won't require an abundance of tools. Just be wary though, if you're squeamish at the sight of blood or cutting up animals, consider leaving the cutting and cleaning to somebody else.

Removing Fillets

Lay the carp on your cutting surface and hook your finger into its gill for support. Slice into the carp directly under the gill (heading toward the tail) going through about a quarter to halfway through the fishes entire height. Be careful not to puncture the carp's internal organs.

Running the knife down the carp's backbone, you'll feel the ribs hitting the knife. After the ribs, cut through to the fishes underside and continue the cut toward the tail, all the while staying aligned with the carp's backbone.

Cutting toward the tail, your cut should end just above where it begins. Using your fingers, raise the fillet from the carp's dorsal fin (on top of his back) and cut loose any meat still connected to the ribs. Do this until you reach the fish's belly then cut the fillet loose just above the belly.

Turn the carp over and repeat the process to remove the other fillet.

Removing the Skin & Muscle

Set the fillet skin-side-down on the table. Cut a small flap near the tail to grab on to and, while grabbing it, slice toward the other end of the fillet keeping your knife close to the skin. After removing, you may dispose of the skin.

Locate the carp's mud-line. This red line of muscle leading the entire length of the fish does not taste good and needs to be removed. Simply cut a shallow "v" shape into the meat around the redder area and dispose of this portion of the fish when finished.

Score the entire length of the fillet with 1/8th to 1/4th-inch cuts that almost go completely through the fillet. During the process, you'll hear yourself cut through bones, this is normal. With this scoring, you can cook the remaining bones in the fillets and they'll tenderize, becoming easy to eat without harming the taste of the meal.


  • Always practice sanitation when cutting and preparing meat.

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About the Author

Matt Koble has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on websites such as DoItYourself. Koble mostly writes about technology, electronics and computer topics.