Having grown up south of Abbeville, fishing opportunities were very abundant, and rarely ignored.

Our family would frequent Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge on the Vermilion/Cameron Parish line. Crabs, redfish, drum, croaker, flounder, shrimp, sheepshead - so much fresh seafood.

The biggest catch I can recall was when my dad brought in an Alligator Garfish. It was over 6 feet long, and weighed in at over 100 lbs!

Being from a family that was taught that you ate what you caught (as long as it was legal to keep), I watched as my dad and brothers (I was old enough to help, but still young enough to get in the way) cleaned that garfish on a table in the back yard.

We had enough garfish to feed our family of 8 several meals!

Using a hand-cranked meat grinder, the garfish filets were fed through mixed with onions and spices and turned into garfish patties and garfish balls. The patties were cooked on the grill, in a pan, or fried and we made fish burgers, and the balls were usually fried or cooked in a gravy.

I took the opportunity to go fishing this weekend at Marsh Island. A 5-foot garfish came home with me!

Photo by John Falcon
Photo by John Falcon

After cleaning the fish and soaking the filets in ice water overnight, I used the food processor to make garfish balls.

My recipe is different from my Mom's (because I don't have her recipe!), and I include more spices than she did (there were 8 kids in the family, so she kept the recipes mild and not spicy).

Here's how I make my garfish balls:

  • 1 med onion
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • Cajun seasoning (I like NuNu's!)
  • one jalapeno (remove the seeds to make it less spicy)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • For use in a red gravy, add 1 teaspoon (crushed or powdered) dried oregano
  • 3-4 lbs garfish filets

Process the vegetables and seasonings in a food processor until mushed up pretty good. Depending on the capacity of your food processor, you may have to process the fish in batches, using equal ratios of fish-to-vegetable mix.

Form the mix into balls (I like to make mine about the size of a golf ball) or into patties (like hamburgers). If you will be freezing them, use a Food Saver-type of system to remove the air from the patties/balls.

I made a plain tomato gravy for the balls I cooked last night.

Photo by John Falcon
Photo by John Falcon


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