Louisiana Gar Balls

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Louisiana gar balls is a simple, tasty recipe that works with most fish, not just gar. This is the best way to cook a very large gar, like an alligator gar.

A serving bowl of Louisiana gar balls with a smaller bowl alongside.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

The reason is because gar is a firm, lean fish anyway, and large gar develop sinews and connective tissue on par with land animals like deer or beef — stringy.

So the classic Cajun answer is to scrape the meat away from those sinews and make them into patties or gar balls.

You do not need to have gar to make gar balls. They are just another form of fish meatball, after all, and are delicious with any fish you have on hand.

Making Gar Balls

In a perfect world, you would run the gar meat through a meat grinder set with a fine die, like 4.5 mm. But you can make gar balls without a grinder.

The next best method is to roughly chop the fish and pulse it in a food processor until it’s well chopped, but not a paste.

Or, if you actually have meat from a large gar, you would scrape the meat away from the sinew, then chop that fine. That’s how I was taught to make gar balls.

Once you have ground or finely chopped fish, you mix that with the Cajun “trinity” of celery, green onion and green pepper — jalapeno in this case — eggs, breadcrumbs and Cajun seasoning.

Then you can either make a ton of Cajun gravy and cook the gar balls in that, or flour and fry them and then sauce the balls with the gravy; I do the latter.

Cajun Gravy

A great many variations on Cajun gravy exist, but this is a good one. Like most good gravies, this one starts with a roux. The “trinity” reappears, along with Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.

Brown stock works well here, like beef or venison stock, but a darker fish stock is also a good choice. Use chicken stock in a pinch.

A big bowl of Cajun gar balls.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Serving and Storing Gar Balls

Serve gar balls with white rice garnished with green onions or parsley. You could cut them in half and serve in a Louisiana po’boy sandwich, too.

If you want to make the balls ahead of time, make and fry them, then set aside. At this stage, you can keep gar balls in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze them.

To freeze, lay them out in one layer on a plate or tray and freeze, then put them in a heavy freezer bag. They’ll keep a few months that way.

Other Cajun Recipes

Gar balls would be a great appetizer for a Cajun feast. Serve them with something like:

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

A bowl of gar balls,. ready to eat.
5 from 6 votes

Louisiana Gar Balls

Keep in mind any fish works with this recipe, not just gar. The fish balls can be made ahead of time and frozen. Make the gravy when you are ready to serve them.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients 

GAR BALLS

  • 2 pounds gar meat, or other fish
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • fine cornmeal ("fish fry") or flour, for dusting
  • oil for frying

GRAVY

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour (Wondra if you have it)
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup minced green pepper, or poblano or jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint stock (beef, chicken or fish)
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • Salt, Worcestershire and hot sauce to taste

Instructions 

GAR BALLS

  • If you have a meat grinder, grind the fish through a fine die (4.5 mm). If not, dice the meat and pulse it in a food processor until it's ground, but not a paste. Or, if you have indeed scraped the fish off the sinews of a large gar, mince that by hand.
  • Mix that with the green onions, parsley, celery, jalapeno, Cajun seasoning, breadcrumbs and eggs. Mix well so you can make balls out of it. If it's too wet, add breadcrumbs. Too dry, add another egg. (It's rarely too dry.)
  • Dust the balls in the fine cornmeal or flour and fry them in batches in 350°F oil until golden brown, turning them so they cook evenly. This will take about 4 to 6 minutes. Be sure to let the oil temperature return to 350 before frying the next batch.
  • Let them cool on a rack set over a baking sheet. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the gar balls for later.

GRAVY

  • Heat the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook this, stirring often, until the roux turns at least the color of peanut butter. I like to cook it until it's the color of milk chocolate. This can take more than 15 minutes, depending on your heat.
  • Add the onions, green pepper and celery and cook this, stirring often, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic in the last couple minutes. Sprinkle on the Cajun seasoning.
  • Slowly pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Add some, incorporate it into the roux, then add more until you have a gravy with the consistency of melted ice cream. Add salt, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste. Heat up the gar balls in this and serve over white rice.

Notes

If your Cajun seasoning doesn’t have salt in it (most do), add 2 teaspoons of salt to the gar balls. 

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 860mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1675IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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4 Comments

  1. this is the food, I was raised on in the 60’s and 70’s in Central Texas. Living in Southeast Texas now and willing to drive to Louisana for fresh gar…and other things you can only get in Cajun country.

  2. These look even better than the ones we used to get at Buster Holmes’ restaurant in the quarter. Congrats!

  3. Hank’s recipes are always out of the ordinary, unless you see them here you might not even know they exist. Sometimes not very handy ingredients, you can always give ’em a little twist here and there and end with some fantastic plates. Thank you sincerely always for these!