This is a very different, delicious North Thai frog recipe from Chiang Rai Province.
This barbecued frog stew is simmered with with betel leaves, galangal flower & aromatic wood long with a platter of 'whetever is in the garden or market"
With this particular recipe I was living with a local family in far North Thailand near the Laos border.
I spent 3 months documenting, photographing and creating recipes of the amazingly tasty, fresh regional food that rarely gets seen outside of the family home.
This is one of those recipes
Known as "Kaeng Khae" or "Gaeng Kaere", this is basically meat, water and lots of greens and flowers from the garden, thickened and flavoured with my two favourite North Thai flavours – Ground roasted rice (khao krua) and toasted dry red chilli flakes (prik krua)
Frog Recipe – Kaeng khae gop
2 ea. whole barbequed frogs, with skin on.
400g Hung wai – the white things in the bowl that look like a cross between palm heart and bamboo.
60g Betel leaves – known as “bai chorpoo” (Pepper leaf)
10 ea Kaffir lime leaf
120g Thai Eggplant – apple eggplant & pea egg plant
100g Pak tam leung – a type of creeping morning glory (sounds rude, no?)
120g Ja-kaan – aromatic wood
50g Dok kha – galangal flower
1-2 tbsp roasted dry red chilli flakes (See tom saap recipe for method)
100g / ½ cup ground roasted dry sticky rice
25g – 2 tbsp fresh garlic, peeled & crushed
750ml – 3 cups Water
30ml / 2 tbsp Cooking oil
Chop the frogs into large chunks
Cut the Ja-kaan wood into small pieces then split into quarters. Mix the wood with the chunks of frog.
Get your greens ready – like in the photo above and below.
Heat a wok or frying pan and sauté garlic and roasted chilli for 1-2 minutes until it smells great
Add the frog and chunks of ja-kaan wood. Add a little water to the wok and stir with wooden spoon (to stir any tasty garlic and roasted chilli that sticks to the pan into the ‘sauce’
Put the 750ml water in a saucepan.
Move the frog, wood and ‘sauce’ from the wok/pan into the potful of water
Add the slower cooking ingredients (hung wai, thai eggplants, andf also the kaffir lime leaves)
Simmer 5-10 minutes gently
Next add the betel leaves, galangal flowers, and quick cooking greens
Stir in the ground roasted rice. This thickens the gravy and gives an incomparable rich flavour. You're ready to eat.
Step-by-step photo guide to making Kaeng Khae
Chop and mix the chunks of frog and the aromatic wood
This is a 'chefs trick' – it's also how you make gravy!
The stuff stuck to the pan has a lot of flavour. When you add liquid and stir into the liquid with a wooden spoon, it makes a great tasting sauce.
Put a pot or casserole dish with water on the stove and empty the wok and its contents into this.
The wok should be clean.
If not, add more water and rub the 'baked on' bits off into the water and add it to the pot.
It should look like this around this point.
Simmer for around 7-10 minutes to cook the veggies through properly.
When the eggplants are tender, add in the 'delicate greens'.
That would be the cha-om, the betel leaves and the galangal flowers.
The green leafy veg will cook in minutes – so add in the ground roasted rice ('khao krua').
But I don't need to tell you that. It’s an essential part of cooking!
If I pass on nothing else of use whatsoever – just remember, taste as you cook and adjust.
Taste and season. Taste and tweak.
Here's the finished dish, ready to serve.
In a restaurant we'd make this "no twigs and sticks' and we'd present it in a more sophisticated manner .
I felt privileged to be led through so many local dishes step by step, and have the recipes explained in detail via translation from my patient partner.
And at the end of cooking we sat on the floor family style with this one, with the all important basket of steamed sticky rice.
This is a local family recipe that was handed down from a couple of generations of Grandmas.
This is one that foreigners and city people normally don't get to taste or find out about.
Restaurants do serve versions of this, but they pale in comparison, and half the charm is in raiding the garden just prior to making it
The bbq frog skin is a great feature and it enhances the aroma for the finished dish. It's not as good using skinned frog
After cooking the frog legs have the texture of chicken, and being large, they're quite meaty.
For me, the combination of the betel leaf and galangal flower combined with the ja-kaan wood defines this dish.
Galangal flower is very different from the root and leaf – it’s quite spicy and peppery.
I’ll definitely be cooking this dish around Asia – albeit more tidily.
When I do, it'll be presented as an upmarket dish with heirloom flavours and a fine pedigree.
This is a celebration of local culture and family cooking, but will be great when it's tamed a bit, to be "spoon & fork ready".
I do have to say if I've ever enjoyed sucking my fingers clean after a meal, it wasn't at KFC……it was while eating this.
If you can find the ingredients or adapt the recipe, jump on it right away. It's a dish you have to try before you 'croak'.