In the 1960's, when my parents had a house at Gilgo Beach on the Great South Bay, I used to catch blowfish, and mom cooked several blowfish tail recipes, mostly fried or sauteed. Pufferfish, sea squab, and chicken of the sea are several names that the Northern Puffer (Sphoeroides maculatus) are called. They are found off the shores of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.
Over the past few years, I started seeing blowfish at farmers markets and fish stores. After doing a bit of research I learned that indeed blowfish had all but disappeared from the Northeast region and made a comeback as quickly as they left.
Restaurants have started to serve them again, including my favorite spot, Lobster Roll/LUNCH in Amagansett.
About the size of a jumbo shrimp or small chicken leg, I bought a few at Cor-J's in Hampton Bays to experiment with, and marinated them in a homemade Asian sauce, using soy sauce, red miso and mirin, for 30 minutes and grilled them over medium heat until tender. I basted them with the sauce while they cooked.
Red Miso Marinade
1/4 cup red miso
3/4 c mirin
1/2 c soy sauce
1 cup water
Combine above ingredients and use as a marinade for fish.
They were delicious tasting, not the least bit fishy, a mild chicken flavor and texture similar to frogs legs. No wonder they have the nickname "chicken of the sea".
Next time, I think I'll try a traditional French preparation, either broiled or sauteed, with butter, garlic, and parsley or breaded. Or Craig Claiborne's 1980 recipe in The New York Times for "Sea Squab Provencale" which sounds deliciously lemony and quite similar to the traditional preparation for frogs legs.
As it young child, it was hysterically funny to bring in blowfish on a fishing line, and watch them inflate themselves into a spherical balloon. Apparently, Blowfish only puff up when they are threatened -- clearly being at the end of a hook and thrown into a bucket of salt water on your way to be cooked is good reason to puff. When you throw them back, they bob and float upside down until it's safe to deflate.
WHERE TO BUY BLOWFISH
Lobster Roll/LUNCH in Amagansett has a special on their menu "Puffers ‘n’ Chips. If you want to try a fantastic, boneless, mild fish that will boggle your tastebuds, order a plate of Puffers™. They’re fried in our special tempura batter and served with homemade creamy coleslaw, crispy crinkle-cut fries and our homemade remoulade sauce".
Hampton Bays, NY
Long Island Cookbooks with Blow Fish recipes include:
Read more about the Northern Puffer here.