The People, Places, and the History of The Northern Neck of VA

October 14, 2022

There are more than one fish to fry…

“Chicken of the Sea”

Not just another pretty face, the sugar toad aka puffer fish aka blow fish aka blow toad is a fish I didn’t want to eat because it wasn’t the most attractive of fish. 

The outer skin is very tough.  I watched my Grandfather Hill saw off the head because the skin was so tough, then he would just pull down the skin and the shiny flesh was left exposed, flesh that looked like fresh peeled shrimp.

I was not going to eat this ugly thing…stupid me.

Years later, I had the chance to eat a sugar toad and I was mad at myself for all the times I passed up eating this DELICIOUS seafood.

Sugar toads, with all of its different names, was once a plentiful fish.  Now, they are scarce, which means if you find them on a menu, you will pay a premium…but prepared correctly, I venture to say it would be worth it.

So, all hail the sugar toad; the chicken of the sea.

"The Northern Puffer possibly got the name sugar toad from a waterman who said they are “sweet as sugar and ugly as a toad.” Their defense when threatened is to blow up like a balloon, which also gives them the name blow toads, swell toads and puffer fish."



To clean a sugar toad, it is recommended to wear thick gloves because the skin is tough and prickly.  You have to use a very sharp knife to cut off the head, then just peel off the skin in a downward motion to also take the innards and skin in one motion.

Lightly coat with your favorite mixture (flour, corn meal, etc. with a little salt, pepper), fry in hot oil until golden and eat like you would a chicken wing, meaning there is a single bone and the rest is heavenly meat.


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