Alligator Gar Balls: Is it an Alligator or A Fish?

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Recently, I got that fuzzy, warm feeling in my belly.
The kind that comes from nostalgia, the smell of fresh cut grass and peppermint toothpaste.

My husband’s uncle gave me a fish. Freshly caught, head attached, armor intact.

Big whoop.

Oh yeah. It is BIG.  And is totally worth a WHOOP.
It was an Alligator Gar.

This was a baby. Only about 3 ft in length.

I’m getting teary eyed just typing the name.
They are the most awesome fish that I’ve ever seen or touched close up.

The head of an alligator. No lie.

The body of a fish. Crazy.

AND. . . . .
If you live near the Gulf Coast, they are sometimes found in coastal rivers and streams from the Mississippi west to the Rio Grande.  They are also present in west Florida and south to Veracruz, Mexico. You won’t find them much further north than the lower reaches of the Missouri and Ohio Rivers.

Sounds like I’ve written a paper on it.
I have. It was published. That’s how much I love these fish.

Used by permission of The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

 I mean, I understand if you think they’re a little scary.  But work with me, that’s the charm.  THEY ARE PREHISTORIC. Hardly changing from gar that lived over 75 MILLION years ago.

Here’s the rundown of the magnificent beast:

They have long cylindrical bodies that are covered in ‘armor-like’ bony plates that Native Americans used as body armor. So cool.

Their underbellies are soft. Which makes this the ideal way to filet the fish.

 There is a joint behind the alligator gar’s head, that allows it to make nodding movements like an alligator. Freaky.

They can gulp air from above the water’s surface, when oxygen in the water is depleted. Due to a handy little thing called a swim bladder, that can work as a lung if needed. WICKED.

Their diet consists of small animals. Fish. Turtles. Waterfowl. Small Animals. Not people. They say. Despite this, I’d swim fast if I saw one coming my way.

And just in case you care, the word is the my grandfather caught one in Louisiana that was approximately 3 million feet long. A parish full of men, and a truck had to help him pull it out of the water. The town ate for years.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

They call the Alligator Gar, a trash fish.  Whoever THEY are.
I’ll tell you what. . . . . . THEY are not very nice.
And THEY don’t know didley squat about good eatin’.

The Alligator Gar falls somewhere between (you guessed it) Chicken and Lobster.
It’s not a flaky fish at all.
And it’s not fishy tasting in the least.
If boiled and dipped in butter, it tastes a lot like our red-armored friend.

Another great way to eat it is fried, rolled up into something similiar to a hushpuppy.
Seasoned, sculpted, and dipped in cornmeal, they make a tasty dish that will leave you wanting more.

IF you have the balls to try them.

Alligator Gar Balls
I should say, these are called ‘balls’ which means they should be round. But I chose to fry them in a skillet (because I didn’t want to bother with my Fry-Daddy), so I made little patties and fried them in a shallow skillet. Each way comes out with lovely results.

4 cups minced Alligator Gar meat, raw
5 medium red potatoes, (3 cups mashed)
2/3 cup Green Onion, minced
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
1 TB Creole Seasoning
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 cup flour
Corn flour, for rolling
Canola oil


1. Boil potatoes. Peel. Mash. Set aside.
2. Grind the garfish in a food processor.

3. Mix together in a large bowl, garfish, mashed potatoes, green onion, yellow onion, creole seasoning, garlic powder, and flour.

4. Roll the mixture into golf ball size or flat little patties (I like about 2″ wide and 1/2″ thick, but you could make them any size you like.) Roll in corn flour to fully coat.

5. Put the balls in a fryer preheated to 375, OR place in a heavy skillet with a 1/2 inch of oil heated on medium high heat, and cook until golden brown in color, about 2 minutes per side.

To see if your skillet is hot enough, place the top of a wooden spoon into the oil, if it bubbles and foams, the oil is ready.

Great as an appetizer, side item, or the main meal.

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