Can You Eat Gar Fish?
If you ask a fisherman whether or not you should eat gar, you’ll usually be told that you should stay away from them. For decades, gar have been considered to be trash.
That’s a misconception that comes from their odd appearance and behavior. Their shell also feels somewhat slimy sometimes.
However, their meat is actually similar to the meat of any other white fish, and it can be used in a number of recipes. It’s a surprisingly clean and refreshing meat. You won’t notice any fishy flavors or fishy smells when you prepare gar meat.
But before we get started, if you’re new to fishing for gar and want to know all about how to fish for these hard fighting fish, then be sure to read my Ultimate Guide To Fishing For Gar.
Why You Should Cook (and eat) Gar
A lot of people still throw gar back, and some go a step further by killing them before they throw them back. That’s completely unnecessary.
Gar are extremely fun to catch, and there are few things better than frying up some delicious gar meat to reward yourself after such an intense endeavor. Even if it’s a little too much work for you to crack through their hard bodies every time you catch them, you should definitely try eating them at least once. You’re missing out on a pretty unique experience if you don’t.
In this article, I’m going to assume that you already have a gar that’s cleaned, and you have at least two gar fillets prepared. If you need to catch some gar, I have an in-depth guide on how to catch gar on this site that will help you out. If you still need to learn how to clean gar, I have a guide for that as well. Check out those articles if you’re not ready to cook your gar.
How To Cook Gar: 3 Gar Recipes
1. Deep Fried Gar Balls
Gar balls are bite-sized snacks that can be made in a variety of ways. Since gar are such clean-tasting fish, you can flavor gar balls in a variety of ways, and they’ll always taste great. They’re also a great way to utilize your gar meat if you didn’t catch enough for a fish fry.
For this recipe, I’m going to tell you my preferred way to make them. Other fishermen do it differently, and I have a simpler recipe in my ultimate guide to gar fishing. This is just the one I like the most.
To make gar balls, you’ll need the following items:
- Breadcrumbs or cornmeal breading
- Gar meat
- Cajun seasoning
- Deep fryer or pot with preferred cooking oil
To start, you’ll want to roughly chop your gar meat into very small pieces. The pieces shouldn’t even be a centimeter thick.
Then, roughly chop your onion into pieces that are about the same size or smaller. You’ll need one-third of a cup of onions for every cup of gar meat that you have. You don’t want to overpower the gar.
Now, mix the gar meat, onions, and spices in a large bowl. Add one egg to help hold it all together.
When you’re done with that, form your mixture into balls that are no larger than one-inch in diameter. This will ensure that they cook evenly.
All you have to do for the next hour is let them sit in your freezer. You’ll want them to be firm before you batter them.
After they’re firm, start preheating your oil to about 350 degrees. Add two eggs to one bowl, and add your breadcrumbs or cornmeal to another. I prefer cornmeal because it doesn’t puff up as much when it’s fried.
Remove your gar balls from the freezer when your oil is hot enough, and simply dip them in the egg bowl, roll them in your breading, and carefully drop them into your oil.
After they start to float, wait about thirty seconds to remove them. You can add a dash of salt after you’ve pulled them from the oil, and they go really well with just about any dipping sauce.
2. Gar Fillets
Gar fillets are a lot easier to prepare than gar balls, but they’re not the best. Gar meat can get a little chewy when it’s cooked in large chunks.
For these, you’ll only need a few simple items:
- Gar fillets
- Favorite spicy seasoning (Optional)
Start by heating a pan on your stove, but don’t add oil, yet. Keep the pan on medium heat, too. While you’re pan is heating up, you can crack your egg into a bowl, and you can put some flour into another bowl. Add your seasonings to your flour, and mix it well.
Your pan should be warm by time you get done with all of that. Pour enough of your favorite oil into the pan to make it about half of an inch deep, and allow your oil to warm up for a couple of minutes.
Now, dip your fillets in the egg, and drag them through the seasoned flour. Once they’re thoroughly covered, you can simply lay them in the oil for about two minutes on each side. They cook rather quickly if your oil is the right temperature.
These go well with ketchup, tartar sauce, and malt vinegar.
3. Gar Lobster
Don’t get too excited about that heading. I’m not going to somehow teach you how to turn gar into fancy lobster tails. However, white fish can work surprisingly well as a poor man’s version of lobster. It has a similar texture, and its clean flavor is similar when it’s enriched with butter and lemon.
For this, you’ll only need a couple of things:
- Gar fillets
- Canola oil
First, cut your gar meat into one-inch strips that are about one-centimeter wide. Now, start heating a pan on medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons of canola oil to help keep your pan from burning.
Once it’s hot, throw in about two sticks of butter. Use real butter for this. Margarine will just make it oily. When the butter is melted, add your gar meat, and add the amount of salt that you like. Cook it for about four minutes. The gar will be slightly chewy, but it shouldn’t be rubbery, and it shouldn’t be raw. If it’s rubbery, you overcooked it. It should feel like an inexpensive lobster tail, but it won’t be as tender.
Once it’s cooked, squeeze a lemon over the top of it, and serve it immediately. It might not be as fancy as lobster, but it’s surprisingly similar, and it’s great for people who don’t live near places where lobster is abundant.
None of these recipes are very health-conscious. If they were sold in stores, you wouldn’t see a big green heart on the box with tons of health claims. However, they’re quite tasty, and they’re the perfect way to celebrate winning a fight against one of the meanest fish in the United States.