SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — With a mission to expand local food options and continue efforts to remove Asian carp from Illinois waterways, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), together with Sorce Freshwater Company and the Midwest Fish Co-op, and with continued support from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, this Saturday will offer free Asian carp meals at nine locations across the state.
The events, which have been made possible with help from local partners including regional planning commissions, universities, food distribution companies and restaurants, will showcase the versatility and nutritional benefits of Asian carp.
“Removing Asian carp from our waterways has long been one of our best and most well-known tactics when it comes to keeping these invasive fish from the Great Lakes,” said Colleen Callahan, director, IDNR. “But what is lesser known when it comes to Asian carp is the overwhelming benefit as both a food source and potential menu item for restaurants. To showcase its nutritional benefits and adaptability as protein source, we’re partnering with businesses to provide free meals across the state.”
• Chicago, Logan Square: Unity Park, 2636 N. Kimball Ave. from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Asian carp tacos will be prepared by El Rancherito Restaurant
• Chicago, Lincoln Park: Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop, 2070 N. Clybourn Ave. from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Asian carp burgers will be prepared and served by owner Dirk Fucik.
• Chicago, Pilsen: Open Books Chicago, 905 W 19th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Asian carp tacos will be prepared by Mole Village Mexican Restaurant.
• Peoria: Kelleher’s Restaurant, 619 SW Water St. from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. In partnership with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council and Distillery Labs, Kelleher’s will serve a chef’s choice of regular Asian carp daily specials.
• East Peoria: Levee District, 370 W Washington St. (tent near Target parking lot) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. In partnership with the City of East Peoria, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Greater Peoria Economic Develop Council and Distillery Labs, a chef provided by Sorce Enterprises will prepare and serve Asian carp.
• Springfield: Carter’s Fish Market, 1900 S. Grand Ave. East from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Owner Clint Carter will prepare and serve Louisiana style Asian carp hush puppies drizzled with a Remoulade sauce. Beginning Oct. 21, customers can enjoy a fish taco special at The Barn located at 1501 Wabash Ave.
• Quincy: Red Light Bar & Grill, 428 Maine St. from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Red Light Bar & Grill will prepare and serve Asian carp sliders; the sliders also will serve as a daily special for the week following the Asian carp cookout.
• Carbondale: Giant City State Park Visitors Center (tent in parking lot), 235 Giant City Rd., Makanda, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Chefs from Cristaudo’s Café, Bakery and Catering will prepare and serve a Jamaican Escovitch fish taco filling for park visitors to pick up and consumer at their leisure. Cristaudo’s also will serve this dish at upcoming Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen events in the coming weeks.
• Carterville: Walker’s Bluff Vineyard, 326 Vermont Rd. from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Chefs from Walker’s Bluff Vineyard prepare and serve the Asian carp in the winery’s tasting room.
Additionally, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale also will have the opportunity to taste Asian carp creations at select dining hall locations.
“You know that old expression, ‘Take lemons and make lemonade?’ Well, that’s what we’re doing here,” Callahan said. “We’re just taking fish and making fish tacos, sliders, and a host of other food items Illinoisans love. It’s a win-win.”