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University professor says cane toads should be Australia’s next gourmet cuisine export ... and yes they taste like chicken apparently

Mmmmm crunchy. In the Northern Territory, some chefs have added toad’s legs to their menu

Mmmmm crunchy. In the Northern Territory, some chefs have added toad’s legs to their menus.

The toads are carefully prepared to extract poisons and toxins.

The toads are carefully prepared to extract poisons and toxins.

QUEENSLAND, Australia’s capital for quality beef, seafood and fresh produce, could soon provide the country with another gourmet delicacy ... cane toads.

Toad cakes, fried toad, and canapés of toad legs in garlic butter could form a national and international push to cash in on the feral pests that have invaded the country.

In his latest research paper, Southern Cross University Professor Philip Hayward has outlined the economic and health benefits of a regulated toad industry.

“If you extracted the meat and packaged it and called it something else it could be effective,” Prof Hayward told The Courier-Mail. “In Australia you would have to process them in some way so it didn’t look anything like the cane toad when you bought it because no one wants to buy a snap frozen cane toad.”

Prof Hayward, who has eaten frog in Vietnam and Indonesia, will present his research on adding toad to Australian cuisine at a regional food conference in Byron Bay this month.

“You could do ‘fish’ cakes or toad cakes or you could actually sell the pre-cooked legs as a hors d’oeuvre, you just need a bit of creative marketing,” he said.

In his draft research paper, Prof Hayward said toads were an ideal substitute for the lucrative frog industry, which has declined in South-East Asia.

He also reiterated the need for safe preparation of toads to avoid toxins poisoning the customers.

There are more than 200 million cane toads in Australia, and they continue to march south through NSW and west towards WA.

“Cane toads are a harvestable asset that is not restricted by protection laws and/or by cultural reticence about culling and reducing the population,” Prof Hayward said.

“They are therefore relatively cheap to gather.

Prof Hayward said frogs and toads were a “healthy food source” and were “rich in protein and high in Omega 3”.

Indonesia currently exports more than 5000 tonnes of frog meat mainly to France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

In the Northern Territory, sustainable food groups have adopted “toad legs” on their menus carefully preparing them to extract poisons and toxins.

GULP NT – a group dedicated to sustainable eating – have listed recipes on their website including canapés of toad legs in garlic butter.

The food blog describes the taste of cane toad as “a bit like gamey chicken”.


14/6/11 Fifi the 1.35kg Cane Toad loves nothing more than to eat cockroaches at her home

14/6/11 Fifi the 1.35kg Cane Toad loves nothing more than to eat cockroaches at her home in Dreamworld. Pics Adam Head


– Cane Toad introduced in Australia in 1935 to control native cane beetle

– More than 200 million toads spread across Queensland, NSW and Northern Territory

– Native to Central and South America Cane Toads have bony heads with dry warty skin and can grow up to 24cm long and 1.3kg

– Current population spawned from an original colony of 102 toads transported from Hawaii

Prof Hayward said frogs and toads were a “healthy food source” and were “rich in protein

Prof Hayward said frogs and toads were a “healthy food source” and were “rich in protein and high in Omega 3”.

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Would you?

I think I would actually. So long as it didn't look like a chunk of toad.

My stomach churns a little, but I'd give it a go I think. Imagine a future where everyone goes foraging for toad!

Brave girl Stacey :)

Maybe we should put ourselves to the test ;)

It would be interesting no doubt, are you thinking a cane toad cook off? BYO toad?

It makes sense just like eating snails. More than I can hack though :-(

I think it's about small and slimey.  I can do croc, emu, kangaroo etc... I just kinda draw the line at small and slimey.  

The one thing that frogs and toads are not (nor snakes either) is slimy! Frogs are kinda clammy and cool, snakes are silky and cool. Raining on your parade Andy; snails are kinda slimy ;-)

LOL. I was going to say that I know they aren't really slimy.  I think I just invented, "psychologically slimy!"

Good phrase :-)


Toad legs- the new feral fine food?

toads in a heapIn the past the GULP team have discussed the various contents of the cook book that will emerge from this wonderful community based local food project.  We would like to set the book out to be produce focused and look at the ingredients that we grow, then from this the recipes are written, and include a ‘star rating’ of how local the recipe is overall. The subject that has arisen a lot, is if we should include meat. Aside from the fact a couple of the team are veggie, semi- veggie, we want the book to appeal to all tastes and reaslise and a lot of people do want to eat meat. The problem is at the moment in the Top End there is no abattoir and the Brahmin cattle that are run in the bush are  (sadly) live exported overseas.

 Many people keep chickens and we would like to include how you can kill and eat these. Many people catch fish and wonderful local fish and seafood is available, so we would love to include this and what ‘sustainable’ seafood is. From here though the two other sources of meat are wild hunted and road kill- unintentionally killed animals, native or not that can make good tucker. In the Territory and Top End there are many feral animals, buffalo, pigs, even goats and donkeys further towards Mataranka- all fair game for hunting and eating (OK- so you need permits, heck out the land you are on etc. but you get the drift). One feral animal that is often overlooked as something to end up on your plate is the cane toad.

Cane toads,  (Rhinella marina) formerly Bufo marinus, are native to South America and were introduced to Australia as another awesome idea at the time, but now disastrous for our biodiversity, introduced by Australian Government in 1935. The department of Sugar Experiment stations  was responsible, trying to keep the cane beetle under control in Queensland. Unfortunately these unfortunately ugly beasties went feral, covering the whole of Queensland by 1980 and reaching the NT in 1984 in South Kakadu, they made it to Darwin by 2004. There are reports that they are spreading further and further and studies show they are more numerous than ever before dispite various programs to stop their spreading and breeding and have just made it over the WA border. These ugly fellas parotid gland produces milky toxic secretion or poison that is dangerous to many species (bufotoxin) and kill other native species such as Northern Quolls, goannas, frogs and snakes. They outcompete other frogs and reptiles and are pretty detrimental to a lot of native animals.

So these guys are pretty easily disliked, adding to that is the fact they are dam ugly too, maybe it is their reputation that adds to the ugliness. People swerve to run over them, get them with spades, you name it, it’s kind of iconic or  ironic (especially in Queensland apparently)

Anyway friends of GULP live further from Darwin, outside Adelaide River and have always been keen on experimenting with the cooking of road kill, including snakes and wallabies and also had an interest in the use of these ugly toads as food.

Every year, at a wonderful ‘Fire Party’ social gathering that involves fire management- an early burn off in selected areas to protect later more intense fire, much great food is prepared and is often a bit of a focus. It is great to share food with friends. This year it was encouraged that meaty road kill or feral animals were prepared.Amongst the amazing dishes prepared were buffalo and wallaby stews and an array of toad dishes.

There are just so many cane toads it is mind boggling, but they are also surprisingly easy to catch. The most humane way reported is to catch them by the back legs and whip them into a dark airtight canoe bag and then freeze them, you don’t want to stress them out, and after you have a few (they only have little legs) pop them in the freezer as quickly as possible. After sufficiently frozen thaw these guys out. With a meat clever or sharp knife, cut off their legs.

toad leg cutting Because of the fact these creatures contain poison in their back (and skin) you want to skin them and avoid the upper body. Apparently the more stressed, the more the poison is dispersed, so give them the most calm end possible! Anyway we discarded the body and put it in a hot compost- great blood and bone! Then we skinned the legs- which is really easy.

leg skin one

Several recipes had been made with the GULP team, I tried marinating them in soy, garlic, ginger and chili.marinating legsAfter a couple of hours (in the fridge) I sautéed them in sesame oil and served them with heaps of local (Vietnamese coriander) and random salad greens, including sweet leaf and rosella leaves.

legs on plate

Other recipes include –

Salad of toad legs with Kang Kung and galangal (Cole)

8 toad legs with skins removed 4-5 knuckles of galangal, finely chopped 3 leaves of Thai coriander, finley chopped 2 large handfuls of kang kung, washed and roughly chopped 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil Splash of soy sauce Salt and pepper to season


Heat sesame seed oil in a wok on a medium heat. Fry toad legs for a couple minutes, add galangal and coriander, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously. Add kang kung and mix with plash of soy sauce until stems cooked.

Serve as an entre for 2 people or meal for 1.

Canapés of toad legs in garlic butter (Rod)

8 toad legs with skins removed

2 table spoons of butter 3 cloves of garlic Salt and pepper to taste 1 fresh baguette sliced Garlic chives, finely chopped


Melt butter in a heavy based sauce pan and fry garlic until soften Add toad legs and cook in butter until tender Lightly toast the baguette Serve two toad legs on a piece of baguette, drizzled with garlic butter and garnished with chives.

mmm on a platter

So guys, don’t just get out there and swerve for them or shovel these guys, if you are going to try some pest management, you might as well get some protein from this unwanted visitor. Just remember, allow them to have a quick death and treat them well, it isn’t their fault they were bought here!  Secondly don’t poison yourselves, be very careful with skins and dispose of the body in a closed compost bin, away from other animals.

la cane toad

Oh and what do they taste like- well a bit like gamey chicken.

Disclaimer- GULP and members of, take no responsibility for people licking toads, these are cooking suggestions and we are just sharing our story. If you try, well that’s up to you!

Cane toad licking

bsuh tucker, cane toad legs, cane toads, darwin

It's all just about a source of protein. Whether that comes from protein rich plants....or some form of animal.

We're just so used to eating nondescript packets of meat from the shops, with little to show for the original animal it came from, that the idea of eating something a bit different is hard to overcome mentally. We've had it ingrained in us for decades too that these animals are nasty, poisonous creatures with no value.

Dead set, if the arse fell out of the world I would eat them! rather than starve. Right now I have a fridge/freezer full of store bought tucker and would have to really talk myself into doing it.

Out with the torch last night as usual to check on activity in the garden after dark (and pee on a fruit tree ssssh) and I must admit I looked at the toads hanging around under the beehive, checked out their scrawny little back legs and tried to get myself worked up thinking about eating them...and failed completely.

It's going to take a while (or world collapse) before I can consider them food.


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