Home Food and wine The King Food of Lake Garda: the carp

The King Food of Lake Garda: the carp

by Isabelle Yrma Pace
Reading time 4 minutes
The undisputed king of fish of Lake Garda. Better said, it only lives here. The carp is an endemic species developed in the biggest lake of Italy. Now, thanks to the fishing ban applied in the provinces of Trento, Verona and Brescia, it is repopulating its habitat after a long-time risk of extinction. A recipe to taste it? Read the article!

The carp is a valuable endemic species of Lake Garda, whose fishing is now banned. For centuries, people have wanted it because its flesh is delicious and contains high quantity of omega3.

It distinguishes itself from the other salmonids for its delicate flavours that perfectly pairs with the other excellences of Garda Trentino. That’s why it is considered the most exquisite fish.

Sometimes they served fish served as “in carpione”(“marinated”, we can say), but this expression only means a way a fish can be prepared. Chefs use this expression inspired by an ancient recipe invented in the sixteenth century, the “Carpione incarpionato”: they used neither cooked nor raw onion in order not to ruin the delicate and unique flavour of the carp (source:“Terzo Libro dell’Opera”by the chef of Pope Pius V of M. Bartolomeo Scappi (1570), in “Trattato della Natura dei cibi e del bere” by Baldassarre Pisanelli (1586) and “L’arte di Ben Cucinare” (1685) by Bartolomeo Stefani, chef of the Gonzagas of Mantua).

The history and protection of the carp

Since 2003, the carp has been object of research by the former Istituto Agrario di S. Michele, now called Fondazione E. Mach, to discover its origin, ecology, nutrition, reproduction sites and modalities in Lake Garda and breeding. Thanks to these activities, they have developed an expertise to farm of the carpe and the necessary funds for its conservation and recovery.

Nowadays, they farm it at Consorzio Trentino Piscicoltura, project born by the venture between Fondazione Edmund Mach and Astro (Associazione Troticoltori Trentini) with commercial and recovery purposes.

Thanks to Astro, you can taste the farmed fish that is no way inferior to other species of lake fish.

The recipe to cook the carp with local products

I am not a chef, but here’s my recipe to bring out the best of some excellences of Garda Trentino: carp Astro, polenta of Molino Pellegrini, balsamic vinegar of Acetaia, extravirgin olive oil of Garda Trentino of Madonna delle Vittorie, carrots of Val di Gresta and local lemons.

The result? My friends and I love it! Try it and tell us if you do the same!



2 carps of Astro already gutted (about 300 g each)

Extravirgin olive oil of Garda Trentino

1 untreated lemon




Minced parsley


500 g instant corn flour of Molino Pellegrini


2 litres of water

Frying oil

Carrots of Val di Gresta in balsamic vinegar

500 g of carrots of Val di Gresta

4 table spoons of extravirgin olive oil of Garda Trentino

2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar of Garda Trentino

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

Fresh chive


First, clean and peel the carrots. Cut them longitudinally in four parts, to get carrot sticks. Steam them for some minutes (they must remain crisp).

In a bowl, mix extravirgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt and emulsify vigorously in a pan on slow fire for 2 minutes (to dissolve the sugar and salt).

Add the chive and bed the steamed carrots on this sauce.

To fry the polenta:

To save some time I used the instant polenta, but if you have time, cook the standard one… it is so pleasant! My grandma used to say that to cook the polenta in the copper pot was like thinking upon yourself and your whole life and, maybe, sort it out the right way.

It was a different time, definitely!

Back to the recipe, now. To cook the polenta, my granny’s tip was: 2 litres of salted water every 500 f of corn flour. Boil, pour in the corn flour, mix and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour it into an oiled baking pan, even it out with a wooden spoon and let it cool down. When it is ready, cut it into 1 cm-wide sticks, no matter how long they are.

Fry them in abundant hot oil.

Cut into slices and grill. This will be the “base” of the fish.

And now, it is time to cook the carp:

Clean and dry the carp. Put some garlic, the lemon slices and the parsley into its stomach, salt and pepper the fish and pour some oil on it. Wrap it in the baking paper.

Cook in the oven at 180°. The cooking time depends on the weight of the fish (mine was about 20 minutes).

To place it on the serving dish, put the carrots of Val di Gresta on sauce of balsamic vinegar of Acetaia of Tenno aged in oak barrels in a bowl. In your dish, bed the slice of fried polenta and the fillet of oven-cooked carp sprinkle with abundant extravirgin olive oil of organic lemon zest. Pair your dish with sticks of fried polenta of Molino Pellegrini.

Enjoy your meal!

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