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Carp-cooking secrets of the Old Russian Ladies

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Carp-cooking secrets of the Old Russian Ladies

The Pie Queen | Jun 11, 2002 04:13 PM

So there are a lot of Russian-born people in my neighborhood (Rego Park, Queens), and I often end up in line at the fish store behind an old Russian lady. Nine times out of ten, these ladies are in the midst of an argument with the fishmonger about whether or not the carp he gave her is female. (It goes like this: "Is woman?" "Yes." "Is no woman! I want woman!" Meanwhile they fling the bloody bag of fish back and forth at each other.) So I've been so curious about why people so badly want a female fish. I thought maybe they did something with the roe. These ladies get pretty worked up, so I didn't really want to ask them.

Today I got the answer! I was getting a manicure at a local salon. The manicurist was born in Russia, and she and I got talking. I asked her about the fish, and she was surprised that I knew that Russians prefer female carp. I tried to explain that I eavesdrop a lot and just like finding out about this stuff. But anyway, here's what she says: it's not about the roe at all. Male carp flesh turns dark when you fry it in oil, and is tougher. Female carp stays light and is softer and more delicate.

Isn't that cool? Just thought I'd share.

And does anyone have a recipe? I might try it someday. And when I go up to the counter and demand a female fish, maybe I'll get big props from the old ladies. :)

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