Frog for dinner
A friend of mine has taken to shopping at an Asian market in Albany, where he finds good deals on seafood, vegetables and other staples and delicacies. Some of the food is unusual, which has led to a certain amount of experimentation, and when my friend discovered that the Asian market sells frog, he decided he had to try it.
“Do you want to come over for frog this weekend?” he asked.
How could I say no to an offer like that?
Of course, I gave little thought to my commitment, and what it might mean to eat frog, until I saw the frogs themselves. Having spent my life rejoicing at the sight of a live lobster being tossed into a pot of boiling water, I don’t know why I was so shocked at the sight of large bullfrogs, recently skinned and gutted, being tossed into a skillet.
“Wow,” I said, trying not to look or sound too horrified.
The frogs had been dead for hours, but they were still fresh, and occasionally one of their legs would twitch. According to the website How Stuff Works, this is quite common, and typically occurs when a frog’s legs are salted: “All that the muscles need is something to activate them and they can still contract and relax.”
As the frogs cooked, I began to wonder where they had come from: Were they local bullfrogs? Are there people in New York who hunt frogs and sell them to ethnic markets? Or were the frogs imported? Who in the Capital Region is buying and eating frog? How do they prepare it? And so on.
My friend had researched frog recipes on the Internet, and decided to cook them in oil and garlic. He also made a hearty sauce with mushrooms, pecans, carrots and a few other ingredients. When the frogs were fully cooked (and I had to admit they smelled pretty good), we added lemon juice and parsley. Then we sat down and ate them.
So how were they? Well, frog tastes a bit like a cross between chicken and fish. It definitely benefits from salt, lemon juice and a tasty sauce. They are greasy and fatty, but in a good way.
Initially, I really liked them, but I felt they tasted a bit too fishy (froggy?) over the long haul. My conclusion: They might be better as an appetizer than a main course. Or maybe I just need to try them again — I suspect they’d taste pretty good fried, with tartar sauce. Of course, just about everything tastes good fried, with tartar sauce.
I asked my friend Hanna, a food writer who has worked in Dallas, Seattle and now South Carolina, about frog. “It’s very common in Cajun culture, and popular in some corners of the lowcountry: I just saw frogs for sale today at a seafood retailer so redneck they call their deviled crabs ‘Jesus crabs.’ Rayne, La., hosts an annual festival.” She added, “Anyhow, if you decide against a Cajun recipe, I’d recommend a Vietnamese preparation. They do the best job with frogs.”
This information could come in handy, since my friend wants to eat frog again. And I’m willing to eat it again, too. I’m not sure frog will ever become one of my favorite foods, but I think it has the potential to grow on me.
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