Locally sourced restaurant turns invasive species into new sandwich

Heartland business makes a meal out of nuisance

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Asian carp have been wreaking havoc on the Mississippi River and other waterways for years, but a Heartland business is putting the invasive species on the menu. Sandwich

On Thursday, April 11 the Spanish Street Farmacy in downtown Cape Girardeau released what they are called the ‘Carpe Diem sandwich.'

Chris Merkley was one of the first try to the new concoction which looks similar to a tuna sandwich, but is completely made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients.

“It’s really good. It’s light. Great flavor,” Merkley said. “Asian carp are invasive and we need to get rid of them and the fact that they taste this good I’m really surprised more people aren’t going after them. We have such a lack of good fresh seafood in this area and to have something this nice that you can get locally that actually helps the environment. It’s just a win-win for everybody."

The invasive species cause problems because they reproduce very quickly, can crowd out habitat space and eat too much food that all fish rely on.

Millions of pounds of Asian carp are harvested in bodies of water in the Heartland every year but most of it is sold to other countries or made into by products like fish meal or fish oil.

Lance Green owns Spanish Street Farmcy and sees eating the troublesome fish as a sustainable solution to reduce the population and keep their numbers low.

“The effect that Asian carp are having on destroying the other native species that can be pretty catastrophic,” Green said. “To me it just makes sense to figure out take this potential problem and turn it into a usable and important resource for us. It’s a low cost protein. I mean what more could you really want?”

Green came up with the recipe for the Asian carp sandwich and got it from the Two Rivers Fisheries in Wickliffe, Ky.

He thinks there is a lot of potential to make delicious creations using the lean white meat.

“It just needs the creativity to create new dishes that accentuate it’s great characteristic. It takes on flavors from seasonings really well,” Green said. “And by eating it you’re going to benefit. Like you mentioned the Omega 3s, it’s such a healthy protein. It’s going to help the environment, it’s going to help us all.”

Some customers came in specifically to try the fish Thursday while others saw it on the menu and were hesitant about ordering it just because it has Asian carp.

Green said it will take some time to change peoples minds who think the fish is nothing but bad news.

“It can be seen not as this evil menace. It can be seen as food," Green said. "My grandpa always said take a lemon and make lemonade. Take something that is a sour situation and turn it into something good and that is really what we want to do with the carp.”

Green said they have enough supplies to keep making the ‘Carpe Diem’ sandwich through this weekend, and he plans to use Asian carp in other recipes in the future.

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