Asian carp is out, ‘copi’ is in as invasive species gets rebranded

Asian carp are being rebranded as "copi" to encourage more people to try them.
Asian carp are being rebranded as "copi" to encourage more people to try them.(WEEK)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 2:25 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Move over, Asian carp, ‘copi’ is the new fish in town.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is attempting to rebrand the fish to get more people interested in eating them to get them out of Illinois’ waters.

Copi is a play on the word copious. IDNR said that accurately describes the fish, which could yield a harvest of 20 to 50 million this year, and still have hundreds of millions left in midwestern water.

Beyond quantity, IDNR said the fish also have a good flavor, and are good for you. The taste is described as “mild” with a fresh flavor, lots of omega-3s and low levels of mercury. Despite their association with bottom feeder carp, the fish are clean, top feeding fish.

To help prove the point, 20 restaurants have committed to serving copi on their menus, including Kelleher’s Irish Pub in Peoria which will sell a copi slider. Fourteen manufacturers will produce food containing copi.

Chefs argued the versatility and clean flavor of the fish allows for different options and dishes to use it in. One chef said it doesn’t have the “fishy” taste that sometimes drives customers away from seafood.

“Copi is more savory than tilapia, cleaner tasting than catfish, and firmer than cod,” said Chicago Ina Mae Tavern chef Brian Jupiter. “It’s the perfect canvas for creativity – pan fried, steamed, broiled, baked, roasted or grilled. Copi can be ground for burgers, fish cakes, dumplings and tacos.”

Copi is a blanket term for four types of carp: silver carp, bighead carp, grass carp and black carp. Together, those make up a majority of fish in the water and take away resources from other natural species.

“Enjoying Copi in a restaurant or at home is one of the easiest things people can do to help protect our waterways,” former White House Asian Carp advisor John Goss said. “Illinois has a unique responsibility in the battle to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes.”

Here’s the full list of restaurants and manufacturers:


• Ina Mae Tavern in Chicago: Copi po’boy.

• Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop in Chicago: Copi Cuban sliders and Copi bolognese.

• Gaijin in Chicago: Smoked Copi dish.

• Herb in Chicago: Copi appetizer.

• Calumet Fisheries in Chicago: Smoked Copi for carryout.

• Kelleher’s Irish Pub in Peoria, Ill.: Copi slider.

• Carter’s Fish Market in Springfield, Ill.: Deep-fried Copi.

• Cash Saver in Camden, Tenn.: Copi strips.

• Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C.: Copi Dim Sum.

• Cristaudo’s in Carbondale, Ill.

• Sushi Grove in Buffalo Grove, Ill.: Copi sushi.

• A. Fusion in Matteson, Ill.: Variety of Copi dishes.

• Lakeway IGA in Paris, Tenn.: Copi strips.

• Schafer Fisheries Market in Fulton, Ill.: Variety of Copi items.

• Watson Lake Inn in Prescott, Ariz.: Custom prepared Copi dishes.

• Kubo Sushi and Sake Lounge in Elgin, Ill.: Copi sushi.

• The Meat Shoppe in Union City, Tenn.: Copi strips.

• The Norwegian in Rockford, Ill.

• Max’s Deli in Highland Park, Ill.: Smoked Copi.

• Trolinger’s in Paris, Tenn.

• Mole Village Restaurant in Chicago: Copi tacos.

Manufacturers and distributors:

• Kencor Ethnic Foods in Canton, Ill. (processor, manufacturer of Copi bouillon)

• River Sun Group in Chicago (processor, manufacturer of Copi cakes)

• Schafer Fisheries in Thomson, Ill. (processor)

• Third Generation SFD in Bronx, N.Y. (distributor, Fulton Fish Market)

• Seafood Merchants in Vernon Hills, Ill. (distributor for Illinois, Wisconsin)

• Sorce Freshwater/Midwest Fish Co-Op in East Peoria, Ill. (processor)

• Supreme Lobster in Villa Park, Ill. (distributor for Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin; possible air shipment nationally)

• Susie Q Fish Company in Two Rivers, Wis. (processor and retail)

• Two Rivers Fisheries in Wyckliffe, Ky. (processor)

• Chippin in Silver Springs, Md. (distributor)

• North American Caviar in Paris, Tenn. (processor)

• Fortune Fish & Gourmet in Bensenville, Ill. (distributor for, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nebraska, Louisiana and Texas)

• Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids, Mich. (distributor, nationwide)

• Freshwater Fish Products in Bradford, Ark. (processor)

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