Alligator is a reptile from the family Alligatoridae. They bear a semblance to crocodiles, and you can eat them. Don’t be so shocked; you can even eat their eggs. If you live in the southern part of the United States, you should know this already. Alligator meat is a white meat that is used in plenty of dishes and recipes around the world.
Alligator makes the perfect inclusion of exotic meat into your dishes. If you love Cajun and Creole cooking, you might have had alligator meat and not know it. Alligator is often regarded as the chicken of the swamp, and we would get to why it is called that now.
What does alligator meat taste like? Alligator meat tastes like chicken. The taste of alligator meat is tricky to describe because each part of the animal can taste different. You have the alligator tail, the body and legs, and then the ribs. The tail portion of the alligator is quite similar to veal meat. If you fry alligator meat, it would taste like a cross between pork, chicken, and fish.
Why would anyone want to eat this mean-looking reptile anyway? Alligator meat is delicious and considered to be exotic when used in dishes. Aside from that fact, it is lean meat, meaning that it proffers nutritional value.
Nutritional Benefits of Alligator
Have you heard of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners? TCMs have been using alligator meat for a long while. They believe that alligator meat can warm up our bodies just like ginger does.
It is believed that alligator meat might have a curative effect on the common cold and maybe asthma. These attributes are not scientifically proven, so you shouldn’t take them to heart.
Red meat has a staggering amount of saturated fat. We all know how bad that can be for the body if we ingest foods that contain them in excessive amounts. Fortunately, this isn’t the case for alligator meat. The saturated fat in alligator meat is way lower than what you have in beef, and this is what makes it healthier.
In a 3.5 ounce serving of alligator pepper, you have just 4 grams of saturated fats. In the same serving of beef, you have over 14 grams of saturated fat, which’s over three times what you have in alligator meat. They are both sources of animal-based protein, and a lower fat-to-protein ratio is perfect for the body.
Alligators roam in the wild, unlike other sources of protein like fish, chicken, and beef. The lifestyle of alligators makes their meat lean in fat and dense in protein. Their muscles are exercised, and there is hardly any marbling in the meat. Alligator meat contains twice as much protein as beef, which makes its nutritional value superior to any other animal-based protein source you have out there.
Alligator meat is rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to help the body function properly. It is also possible that alligator meat might have properties that can help prevent the formation of cancer cells and arthritis. This claim is not medically supported, so it might not be 100% true.
Culinary Uses of Alligator
The tail section of an alligator is what many people are familiar with, and it does taste like chicken. In the front end section of the alligator; the legs, arms, and shoulders have a different kind of flavor. In countries like Australia, United States, Thailand, South Africa, and the Philippines alligator meat is enjoyed in various dishes, forms, and adaptations.
Alligator meat is usually cooked in the same way you would cook fish or chicken. It must be very well cooked and not to be served rare. It is also a great idea to remove all the fat found on the exterior of the meat and in between layers before cooking.
According to many food experts, alligator meat should be marinated for about 6 hours so it can tenderize before you cook it. To preserve the nutritional value of alligator meat, cook it with as little oil as possible. When the meat gets overcooked, it dries and hardens, becoming too chewy for many.
Alligator meat can be used in soups, stews, fillings for baked goods, and in many other capacities where white lean meat would work just fine. It can serve as a substitute for chicken in Cajun and Creole recipes. There are also many popular alligator recipes like gator ribs, gator tail picadillo, gator piquantes, and more. You can even use alligator eggs in the kitchen too.
What is the History of the Alligator? How to Procure It?
Alligators and crocodiles are biologically related, so many people confuse them for each other. The meat from these two animals are also similar, the only difference being that alligator has a lower sodium content.
The first record of eating alligators can be traced back to the ancient Chinese Ming dynasty. A journal, the Classical Chinese Materia Medica was written during the period of the mind dynasty, and it listed alligator meat as a favorite dish at wedding feasts. There are two extinct species of the Alligator, the American Alligator and the Chinese Alligator.
All over the United States, there are alligator farms to cater to the needs of people that want to have this exotic meat on their dishes back at home. So, in specialty food stores or grocery food stores, it won’t be a hard find.
Which Tastes Better: Alligator or Crocodile?
These two types of meat are basically the same thing. The only difference is that alligator has a lower sodium content than crocodile. However, alligator meat is much easier to procure because people have domesticated it and are actively breeding them for consumption.
Facts You Don’t Know About Alligator Meat
- The meat from the feet of an alligator is always referred to as wings, and they taste like frog meat.
- Alligator is a perfect substitute for veal meat in many recipes and dishes.
- Harvesting wild alligator eggs is illegal if you do not have a permit for it. Violators of this law will have to face serious fines and jail time if caught.