Notes from the Island Fishmonger

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   There are only two places I don’t mind having an alligator encounter. The first place is on the golf course as they seem to mind their own business on the links. The other place is on my dinner plate. People say Gator meat tastes like chicken. My professional foodie description and comparison is that of a veal texture with the flavor of a cross between chicken and frog legs but it has its own unique flavor. If cooked right, the meat is mild and tender. Alligator is low-calorie, low in saturated fat and also provides vitamin B-12 and other nutrients. Another popular reason behind the rise in popularity of eating gator is the amount of protein packed into the meat. A 3.5 ounce of alligator contains 46 grams of protein which is double the amount contained in a comparable serving size of beef. It’s delicious, rare and fun to say you’re eating gator. Yes, eating gator is fun!

   The popular way of eating alligator is most commonly called “Gator Bites” or “Gator Nuggets”. Occasionally you will find this at the Big Water Fish Market served with a spicy gator aioli sauce and our gator/seafood gumbo, when available, is also one of my all-time favorites. Another fun and creative way to cook gator is to simply fry it.

   If you are wondering how to properly prepare, grill or fry an alligator tail at home, I can help you with this simple process (instructions on how to actually kill and process an alligator are not included). Start by buying your gator meat from your local fishmonger (demand for gator meat is pushing the retail price to around $20 per pound). Always buy the meat frozen as it’s packaged and frozen immediately during the processing. Not all of us have the capability of tenderizing or cubing our Gator meat at home so your gator meat should have already been cleaned and tenderized by your fishmonger before your purchase. Then marinate it in Zatarains’s Creole Seasoning, sautéed garlic, peppers, celery and onion with butter and grill it on high heat. The choice cut of alligator is the tail meat, but the most talented cooks can also prepare ribs, nuggets, and wings.

   Gator Kabobs and even Gator Chili with an over easy egg on top is also delicious…that’s called “Gator Chili with a Jewel.” Keep in mind when cooking gator that celery, onion, garlic with Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning are essential ingredients. Do not serve raw and do not overcook…medium is the perfect serving temperature. If overcooked, gator will become very chewy like the old saying of eating shoe leather. You can find fried gator in unique southern seafood restaurants from mile marker 0 in Florida to Louisiana, and even in Georgia.

   Don’t be intimidated to cook gator at home but if you are, we will be doing weekly specials featuring gator meat as Florida alligator is plentiful during the spring months at Big Water. You will find not only gator bites but occasionally also a gator, shrimp, sausage and crawfish Gumbo.

Live well…Eat fish (& Gator)!!

Big Water Fish Market / 6641 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key, FL 34242 / 941-554-8101

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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