If you have been in the South, you might have seen a strange fish on the menu. Alligator gar looks like an ancient deep-sea monster, with rows of sharp teeth and a long, broad snout. These fish can be huge and live in lakes and rivers in Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico. However, what does alligator gar taste like?
An alligator gar might seem strange and dangerous, but people often catch and eat it in the Southern states where it is native. The taste of a filet of alligator gar compares favorably to other popular gamefish (like catfish) for its mild and soft meat.
However, the alligator gar has some specifications. You should never eat the skin, as it’s full of natural toxins. There are certain ways to clean and cook alligator gar, so it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable chef prepare the gar. Here is a guide to alligator gar, its taste, and where to find it.
What Is Alligator Gar?
Alligator Gar is the largest fish in the gar family and one of the only freshwater fish breeds that can exceed 100 pounds.
As an adult, it averages about 150 pounds and is six feet long. However, the longest reported alligator gar was almost 10 feet long and weighed over 300 pounds.
Gar is a thin, long fish with a snout and rows of teeth. These features got the alligator gar, the largest in the family, its name and its reputation.
Alligator gar have many features of their mammalian and amphibian ancestors and share characteristics with ancient fish.
Alligator gar are the largest breed of freshwater fish in America and live in the Southeastern United States and the rivers and bays of Mexico.
Most commonly found in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Mexico, this fish is a popular local dish as long as you prepare it correctly.
Alligator gar tends to pick up toxins from the water around it and hold them in its skin. Therefore, there are places where it’s illegal to fish and eat gar because the fish could be poisonous.
However, the alligator gar is safe to eat as long as it has been sourced from clean water.
What Does Alligator Gar Taste Like?
Alligator gar is a unique experience for fish eaters. If you’ve had regular gar, alligator gar tastes very similar, with a touch less fishy flavor.
The key point of alligator gar is that it has a very mild flavor on its own and works well with spices and other flavorings.
Alligator gar has a texture more like chicken than “regular” fish meat. It doesn’t taste very “fishy” and doesn’t have the flakiness that most freshwater fish do.
Instead, this fish tastes a little more like alligator meat. It is a distant relative of the alligator, so it makes sense.
These unique flavors and textures come from the ancient roots of the alligator gar. Unlike many fish cousins, the gar family has evolved very little from its ancestral form.
It’s a relative of alligators and crocodiles, which gives its meat a more gamey texture.
Why Do People Eat Alligator Gar?
Alligator gar is eaten in the South for several reasons. The first reason is that it tastes good. The flesh is mild and white, with a similar taste to many other sports fish. Many people eat alligator gar for the taste.
Of course, anglers in the South are experts at eating what the lakes and bayous provide. Alligator gar provides a lot of meat in every fish, which makes it worthwhile to hunt and catch these enormous fish.
Although gar is hard to catch, it is big enough to make it worth it. Where it’s legal, and there isn’t a gar ban, the alligator gar is a popular option for stews, jambalayas, and fried fish plates. If you add some seasoning – and you’re set.
Where Can You Find Alligator Gar?
Alligator gar only lives in the southeastern United States and Mexico. You can catch it in rivers, ponds, and lakes along the states that line the Gulf of Mexico but you rarely see it elsewhere.
If you want to try some alligator gar, a seafood or Cajun restaurant in Louisiana, Texas, or Mississippi might be your best bet. Although it’s not usually on the menu, you might be able to find it in restaurants further north or further east.
Gar is difficult to catch and takes some preparation. The skin absorbs toxins from the water and can be deadly, so cutting and cooking the fish properly is crucial.
When ordering garfish, make sure it’s from a quality chef or restaurant with experience with the fish.
Frequently Asked Questions about Alligator Gar
Here are some frequently asked questions about alligator gar and their answers. Hopefully, they will help to answer your questions!
Is alligator gar good eating?
Alligator gar is delicious when prepared well. It has all the health benefits of fish but the texture and consistency of chicken. Usually, gar pairs with spices and vegetables to add some flavor.
Why do people not eat alligator gar?
Some people don’t eat alligator gar, largely because the fish are very difficult to catch. While the skin can be toxic in some places, state laws prevent anyone from fishing there. Otherwise, the alligator gar is safe to eat.
Does gar taste like lobster?
Gar is often compared to lobster because it has a unique texture. Gar isn’t quite fishy and doesn’t quite have the same texture as land mammals, so it can have a similar taste to eating lobster. Both are good when covered in butter.
What does garfish taste like?
Garfish tastes very similar to alligator gar. While most garfish are smaller and have a slightly fishier taste, alligator gar tastes milder and has a less flaky texture.
Alligator gar is a unique find in the southern United States because of its size and how difficult it can be to catch. However, if you’re lucky enough to see it on the menu, you might want to try it. Alligator gar is a remnant from another era and one of the only fish with a meat-like texture and taste.