Asian Carp Makes Cameo on Taste of Chicago Menu

Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop serves up free samples Wednesday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Who needs turkey legs when there's Asian carp to be eaten at Taste of Chicago.

    Starting at noon Wednesday, Dirk’s Fish and Gourmet Shop will serve up about 750 free samples of mini-Asian carp burgers at a Taste booth sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Shedd Aquarium, Feeding Illinois and Illinois American Water.

    The burgers, served with homemade jalapeno chutney, are first-come, first-served at the booth located at the Congress Parkway entrance, and Dirk’s owner Dirk Fucik suspects Taste goers will find the sliders tastier than they think.

    "They're very mild," said Fucik, a sustainable fishmonger who serves Asian carp freebies from noon to 3 p.m. every Saturday at his shop on North Clybourn Avenue. "People go 'eww,' and then they try them and say 'Oh that's good.'"

    IDNR spokesman Chris McCloud hopes the Taste outreach highlights efforts to rid the Great Lakes of the invasive species, including using them as a potential short-term food source.

    "It's not a name that's synonymous with good eating," McCloud said, "but in other markets they're wildly popular."

    Fucik sees the opportunity. He has made burgers, croquettes, meatballs, tacos and even Italian wedding soup with the fish.

    "It has become the poster child for aquatic invasive species," McCloud said, "but ... what we're interested in is highlighting the good and the bad about them."