Joe Tess sells carp. Not for stocking the pond in your Japanese garden, but for eating. Most Americans do not consider carp much of an eating fish (although it does find its way into gefilte fish), but here in Nebraska and the surrounding states, it’s an inexpensive treat. Especially when someone else does the cleaning and cooking.
You see, carp has to be cleaned carefully to make it delicious and, even then, lots of small bones are likely to remain in the flesh. Shad, a (somewhat) more widely enjoyed eating fish, has the same problem, and it’s often cooked in such a way, long and slow with acidic ingredients, that the bones dissolve and become edible. A similar approach is taken with carp, although unlike shad, the carp is deep-fried. Deep slits are cut into the flesh to allow the hot oil to blast the bones into submission. The resulting fish is very crusty and surprisingly soft and moist, with plenty of non-edible parts to nibble around. These are not generic white fish filets, although the flavor is not overpowering. Still, we wouldn’t recommend that fish-frowners try to develop a taste for the stuff eating carp.
Joe Tess raises the carp, and catfish too, for sale in his restaurant and to other restaurants in the area. You can get the ultra-fresh carp as part of a full meal, accompanied by crunchy disks of fried potatoes, or in a sandwich, which is one of the true Roadfood bargains to be had anywhere.
Joe Tess’ Place is a large family-friendly tavern on the south side of Omaha, and it’s extremely popular with the local folks. There’s a good selection of other things to eat here, not just fried carp and catfish, and there’s also an attached seafood market where you can see the live critters swimming about in tanks. If you like fish, and like to try the local specialties when traveling, order the carp.