Food at this year’s Northwest Washington Fair takes a decidedly Southern turn with the addition of a vendor who features alligator meat and frog legs.
“It’s very popular. It’s taking off like gangbusters,” said Ron Hesher, who runs Southern Fry with partner Harold Watters. The Lynwood-based Southern Fry has been making the rounds of local food festivals, most recently the Bite of Seattle and Taste of Tacoma.
Both Watters and Hesher said they choose alligator and frog for the menu because they wanted to distinguish themselves from other food vendors at festivals and fairs.
“Everybody does teriyaki and hamburger and slushies,” Watters said. “Everybody does hamburger nine different ways.”
Southern Fry’s frog legs and bite-size pieces of alligator meat are battered on-site and deep-dried. Customers can choose from several kinds of toppings, including Louisiana-style hot sauce, a Korean hot sauce and Sriracha, Watters said.
He said that both meats have their own distinctive flavors.
“Everybody says they taste like chicken, but they don’t,” Watters said. “(Frog) is more like scallops or a really good cod. The taste is kind of up to the person.”
Alligator is firm-fleshed meat from the tail of the reptile, and Watters compared its texture to a pan-fried pork chop.
Hesher said he understands the comparison to poultry, but he challenged diners to try it anyway. In addition to alligator and frog, they also serve deep-fried chicken and a classic Cajun stew called jambalaya — only theirs features alligator.
“People say they’re the same, but they’re not,” he said. “They have the same texture as chicken, but not the taste. You take a bite, and your taste buds can tell. Once they taste them, they’ll know.”
For those who can’t get to the fair, Bayou on Bay restaurant in Bellingham features dishes made with gator and frog, along with several British Columbia restaurants, according to readers who responded via social media posts. Here is a selection from their dozens of responses:
▪ “My 11-year-old daughter has been wanting to try frog’s legs,” said Vanessa rose of Lynden: “If I just tell her it’s a French food truck, she’ll do it!”
▪ “I have and I will,” said Stan Godek of Sudden Valley. “Both have very nice texture and flavor. Frog legs most recently at a Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver, B.C. Prior to that on a Boy Scout outing I taught the boys how to dress frog legs for frying.”
▪ “Alligator sausage is the best,” said Amber Peel of Bellingham.
▪ “I have and will again,” said Suzanne Blangsted of Sudden Valley. “I had frog legs at the Boathouse in White Rock, B.C., many years ago. I had gator and piranha while in the Amazon ages ago – at least that is what I was told I ate. It was in a camp and not in a restaurant with menu.”
Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805, firstname.lastname@example.org, @bhamMitty