Frog recipes

Bil­lions of frogs are be­ing con­sumed an­nu­ally, which is hardly sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing that this del­i­cate meat is low in choles­terol and high in pro­tein.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - –Abby lu

IBEGAN to sus­pect some­thing was amiss. The bones were way too small and my cousins were smirk­ing with ap­par­ent glee. Con­fused, I turned to my mother and asked as a 10-year old would: “Mum, why is this chicken so un­usual?”

It turns out that my sus­pi­cions were not un­war­ranted – I wasn’t feed­ing on poul­try as the oth­ers had led me to be­lieve.

Thin kai is not “sweet chicken” but a va­ri­ety of frogs favoured by the Chi­nese and some Asian com­mu­ni­ties. The lit­eral trans­la­tion of its name (from Can­tonese to English) is “paddy chicken”.

Com­monly found in wet paddy fields, swamps and streams, these am­phib­ians are caught by pro­fes­sional frog catch­ers who can net 2,000 to 5,000 frogs in a sin­gle night.

It is hard to as­cer­tain how many wild-caught frogs are be­ing supplied to restau­rants dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar pe­riod but one thing is for sure – it is not enough.

Ken Choo, 36, co-owner of Gey­lang Lor 9 (a restau­rant chain that serves frog dishes), says that sup­ply tends to be in­con­sis­tent. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to catch so many,” he ex­plains.

In ad­di­tion, it is also more ex­pen­sive. For ex­am­ple, while farmed Amer­i­can bull­frogs cost around RM10 per kg, wild frogs, at RM40 per kg, is four times the price. Roughly, four bull­frogs make up 1kg.

There­fore, thin kai is not as com­mon as peo­ple may think. What they may as­sume to be thin kai could be ngau wa (bull­frog in Can­tonese).

A restau­rant like Gey­lang Lor 9 in SS2, Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor, re­plen­ish­e­sishes its stock daily with 300 to 400 farmed bull­frogs. “Alive, the frogs can last for about a week if they are kept moist. We want to serve it fresh, so we don’t or­der more than we can use,” Choo says.

The frogs, which are de­liv­ered to the restau­rant in trays of 30 on the back of a lorry, are killed via a quick snip of its head with a pair of scis­sors.sors. Its webbed feet, in­ter­nal or­gans and skin are then re­moved, leav­ing a chunk of meat about the size of a piece of chicken breast.

When I ask the chef, Alex Ang, 27, if he feels squea­mish at hav­ing to kill so many frogs in a day, he replies mat­ter-of-factly: “It’s no dif­fer­ent from killing fish ... or prawns.”

The frog is then cut into pieces and tossed into a clay­pot with a lib­eral amount of oys­ter sauce. If it is kung pao style, dried chilli and cili padi will be added, and af­ter a driz­zle of sesame oil, it will be left on the stove for five min­utes.

“It shouldn’t be cooked longer than that be­cause the meat will be­come tough,” Ang says.

The oys­ter sauce, adds Choo, is made from a se­cret recipe; it is pur­chased from the orig­i­nal Sin­ga­pore Gey­lang frog por­ridge stall (who are also part­ners in Gey­lang Lor 9).

The Chi­nese have long held that frog meat is good for health. Ac­cord­ing to Choo, it is be­lieved to pu­rify the blood and is good for the com­plex­ion.

The sci­en­tific com­mu­nity sees frog meat as a low-choles­terol, pro­tein-rich al­ter­na­tive, which is high in potas­sium, a min­eral that is im­por­tant in re­duc­ing the risk of high blood pres­sure and stroke.

Still, one of its prized traits is the tex­ture, which has of­ten been de­scribed as a cross be­tween fish and chicken. I like to think of it as a firmer ver­sion of the car­niv­o­rous soon hock (mar­bled goby).

Many species of frogs have skin that is slightly toxic, so it is ad­vis­able to re­move the skin be­fore con­sum­ing the meat. For ed­i­ble frogs, this slight tox­i­c­ity does not pose a seri- ous prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to vet­eri­nar­ian Dr C.K. Lim. “It might cause some stom­ach dis­com­fort but it won’t kill you,” he says.

What will kill you, how­ever, are brightly coloured frogs whose skin serves as a warn­ing to preda­tors look­ing for a snack.

Check out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing two recipes and see if you will be con­verted into a fan of frog meat.

Kung Pao Frog

Kung Pao frogs at Gey­lang Lor 9 in Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor, is cooked in clay­pot us­ing dried and bird­eye chill­ies, and a se­cre­trecipe oys­ter sauce.

Frogs should be prop­erly skinned be­fore cook­ing, as their skin is slightly toxic.

Ken choo, co-owner of Gey­lang Lor 9 which serves frog meat as its spe­cial­ity.

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