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Tropical Cooking with Travel Man: 9th Main Dish - Carp in Coconut Milk

Updated on July 1, 2013

Fresh catch that is carp!

Carp (Cyprinus carpio) (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala aka travel_man1971)
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala aka travel_man1971)

Catching carp and selling it

Carp abounds in fresh water. Here in our place, we live near the river channel where many kinds of freshwater fish and shells still exist.

Small-scale fishermen use fishnets I order to catch carp. Some use baits (as in earthworm) in order to catch it. Selective fishing is being implemented in our area.

So, when carp season comes, usually its summer, the wives of the local fishermen are happy to sell fresh catch of carp, amounting to P70.00 ($2.00 or less).

The usual method of cooking is by using coconut milk. Tropical food as it is, this regional dish which is also popular here in Bicol is common among the rural folks because of its accessibility.

To think, all other fresh ingredients also abound in our place.

Swamp cabbage or camote tops for siding and spices, like dill weed, lemongrass, fresh bay leaf, ginger root, onion and garlic. Mature coconut can just be picked from its tree at the backyard. Grating its meat is still done by using the manual grater.

The tedious part of cooking it is the cleaning process.

Usually, carp spawns more than hundred thousands of eggs in multiple succession every season. So, most of the time, the stomach of the fresh catch is filled with roe or eggs. It the tummy is bulging, it surely has roe inside it, so they say.

You can either cook it along its meat or cook the roe with sautéed ampalaya or bitter gourd.

Note: In the USA, it is considered as food fish in 19th century. But is now a nuisance, since it is an invasive specie as noted in Australia (with environmental consequences - Wikipedia).

Carp in Coconut Milk with veggies

Succulent Carp (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Succulent Carp (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)

What happened during the cooking of this dish

The carp and other ingredients on the carajay (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
The carp and other ingredients on the carajay (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
With Banana leaf as cover (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
With Banana leaf as cover (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Almost done (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)
Almost done (Photo Source: Ireno Alcala)


  • 1 kilogram carp, cleaned, cut into bite sizes
  • 500 grams coconut, grated and squeezed into pure milk and second squeezing with 1 cup of water
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, cleaned
  • 20 grams ginger root, crushed
  • 20 grams onion, sliced
  • 20 grams garlic, crushed
  • 5 milliliter vinegar, preferably from coconut
  • dash of black pepper, ground
  • salt, to taste


  1. Clean the carp by removing its fins, scales, gills and innards. Set aside the roe.
  2. Cut into bite sizes and put it on the carajay (We call it kawali in FIlipino language).
  3. Add the vinegar and spices.
  4. Cook until half-done or almost dry.
  5. Add the coconut milk (squeezed with water). Let it boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the pure milk and boil for 3 to 3 minutes.Salt to taste.

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Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: Serves six persons.

Tropical Cooking: Main Dish - Carp c/o Ireno Alcala

Carp in Coconut Milk

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 250 grams
Calories 275
Calories from Fat108
% Daily Value *
Fat 12 g18%
Protein 39 g78%
Cholesterol 143 mg48%
Sodium 107 mg4%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Visit us here in Baliuag Nuevo, Minalabac, Camarines Sur, Philippines. You can catch a lot of carp and other fish here.

A markerBicol River, Minalabac, Camarines Sur, Philippines -
Minalabac, Philippines
get directions

Minalabac, Camarines Sur, Philippines abounds in freshwater fish due to the river channel which is a part of Bicol River. Visit us by road or by river

The do's and don'ts of cooking fish

Whether the fish you are about to cook comes from saltwater or freshwater, you should always remember the following tips to make it more pleasant and likeable.

Other people prefer meat dishes, but most of the members of my family like to eat fish from sunrise to sundown.

My visiting cousin eats fish dishes often more than me. I asked him why?

He said that it's good for his health. Since he was a child, as attested by my mother, he is fond of eating the head part of the fish.

Now, when I asked him if he knows how to cook fresh catch, he eventually gave the floor to me (hah!).

In doing so, I will impart those do's and don'ts when cooking fish.

  1. Do select fresh catch. Bad smell is eminent on the fish that is near on decaying process. Fresh fishes have more clearer eyes than the old ones (with blurry or red eyes).
  2. When cleaning and removing the innards, please don't prick or pressure the bile (that blue-green colored part). Its bitter taste will mix with the taste of the fish, even if you clean it thoroughly.
  3. Don't put too much water on your fish. Little amount of liquid is enough to cook it. Unless, you are cooking a fish soup.
  4. Don't overdo the cooking. Fish is cooked at short period of time, next to vegetables.
  5. Apply deodorizer like lemon juice on your hands in order to eliminate or lessen the fishy odor on your skin.

To make you interested in Tropical Cooking, I included referrals of books and things related to it that will surely help you excel in this type of cooking.

This method of food preparation is typically used in tropical countries, like Philippines.

We often use firewood when gas is not available. It's still the best alternative of cooking in the barrio, since buying commercial fuel will always cut the budget intended for food.

Instead, dried twigs and branches of the trees are used in order to cook rice and dishes.

If you haven't noticed, I cooked this carp dish by using those twigs or firewood.

It's economical.

Try my cooking. Asian or not, you'll like Philippine food when you visit here.

To fully guide you on how to catch carp and other freshwater fish


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    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @DDE: Thanks for appreciating my cooking. If you visit Philippines, you should try Bicol cuisine or dishes that are mostly cooked with coconut milk. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Incredible meal and looks such a treat!