URBANA — Chef Soohwa Yu has been serving carp at University of Illinois dining halls for a few years.
Now, the rest of the state is catching up.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is promoting a statewide Asian carp cookout on Saturday at 10 locations, including the new Illinois Street Residence Hall Commons.
While the UI event isn’t open to the public, the state is hoping to showcase the fish’s value as a food source.
While a common dish in Asia, it’s an invasive species in Illinois rivers and has nearly reached Lake Michigan.
“It’s very mild and sweet,” Yu said. “I love working with the carp.”
Carp is a regular on the rotating menu at ISR, he said.
“It’s slowed down because of COVID-19, but we used to have it at least once a week,” Yu said.
He said it’s more popular among Asian students than among Western students, who aren’t as used to eating bony fish.
Yu has a variety of recipes and is thinking of a gyro-style fish slider for Saturday’s dish.
“I’m testing a recipe with my sous chef,” he said.
While the other carp meals are open to the public, the one at the UI is only open to students.
The carp at each of the 10 locations are sourced from Sorce Freshwater Company and Midwest Fish Co-op.