A Cajun’s Way of Cleaning Gar (Garfish)

  • Yield : Depends
  • Servings : Depends
  • Prep Time : 30m
  • Cook Time : 1:15 h
  • Ready In : 1:45 h
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The fish are difficult to dress, but the meat cooks up white and flaky, and tastes delicious. Like any other flavorful white-meat fish, gar can be baked, stewed, fried, grilled or broiled. Garfish have a low to medium fat content and the flavor is sweet to mild. They are usually sold whole or as fillets with the skin on although some local supermarkets sell them fully cleaned and even stuffed.


  • 1 garfish - any size
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions and garlic or shallots
  • 2- 3 tbsp low acidic vinegar
  • Salt, red pepper and black pepper to taste


Step 1

To cook, mix the onions, garlic or shallots, vinegar and season to taste with the salt, red pepper and black pepper.

Step 2

Make a few slits in the gar roast and stuff the pockets with the spice stuffing. Then season the outside with more salt, black pepper and red pepper. The gravy gar makes is dark very similar to beef roast gravy. Bake or roast accordingly. Many Cajuns serve gar with rice and cold potato salad.

Step 3

If you have a fresh fish, you may be asking how you go about cleaning a garfish. The answer depends on whether the gar is small or large. The scales on a gar are hard; hence the nickname “armored fish” therefore a certain technique needs to be applied.

Step 4

If it's small, have a pair of gloves, two strong hands and a knife. Split the gar on the top (back of fish) by cutting from the head to the tail with the sharp knife and gloved hands. Filet around the skin using one hand to pull the skin back. Cut and skin back around the entire fish angling the knife around the body of the fish and going all the way around. Think of it like peeling a banana work on one side and then the other. Cut the head off after “skinning” the fish as you use the head as a brace to hold the fish in place. Another approach is once it is skinned half way to the tail, cut off the head then reach in and pull the meat out similar to skinning a rabbit. It is also most important to remove the gut as tainting from sea grass can occur.

Step 5

You will see a web looking bone of which some of the finer bones can be eaten. There is also a bone down the middle of the gar and although you could filet the meat off it, cooking with it still in the meat will give your dish more flavor, especially a garfish roast.

Step 6

Now if it is a LARGE fish, nail the head to a large board like a 2x12 (make sure it is a little bigger than the fish or nail the fish to the side of a shed). Depending on the size take a hatchet or an axe; chop the skin along the backbone all the way to the tail. Now start the process of cutting under the skin and filleting the fish. Because the skin is so hard an axe or a hatchet is a must as a knife will not cut it. To ensure your personal and others safety, make sure to keep all fingers and moving parts out of harms way.

Step 7

A neat and simple but messy thing to do is to take a skill saw and cut small round steaks. Then take a knife and cut around leaving the meat to pop out.

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Ossun, Louisiana Louisiana
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