Here in Southeast Asia, plump edible frogs are readily available in the markets at an affordable price.
The thing about Asian markets is that there is a distinct lack of polystyrene or plastic trays with sterile, impersonal cuts of unidentifiable meat gazing up at you from under a tight, glossy, virginal shrink-wrap plastic cover.
Any meat there is likely to have been killed an hour or two back……or not!
Well, the things that haven't been killed and butchered are likely to still be alive, waiting to be selected for next meal period.
The ones that have been butchered are hardly anonymous either.
It's hard to forget that your intended meal was once bouncing around merrily when everything is laid out in front of you – face, tail, hooves, etc, so one really has to come to terms with the fact that we actually kill and eat other creatures – or are directly responsible for the same.
Cities and Western civilisation often protect us from harsh realities like this, and we depersonalise not only the food we eat, but also the people we are about to vilify, go to war with, or vote against.
Over here, if you eat meat, something died recently to make that happen. And you're aware of it.
I haven't seen many vegetarians created though. The freshness and vitality of food in Asia is second to none, and the weekly supermarket trip to stock up the fridge and freezer is not understood by most Asians.
Food is bought fresh for each day or each meal period, and is freshly picked, cut, harvested, killed or measured out.
Things you'll normally find alive include chickens, ducks, geese, frogs, rabbits and half of the seafood.
The frogs are tied together so they don't hop back to freedom, and upon purchase, they're quickly dispatched, heads cut off and deftly skinned.
Naturally there is a little bit of kicking and squirming going on as the nerves wind down, and after a quick clean, dinner is served.
The French have the fantastic idea of using frogs legs – these are the meaty parts, and quite easy to eat.
The rest of the frog is quite awkward with a small amount of meat and lots of bones.
In Asia the whole frog is normally served, chopped into bits and stir fried or stewed.
Here is another great frog recipe that I had the fortune of experiencing in Bun Rueng, Far North Thailand near the Laos border.
It looked like a shocker, and smelt worse, until the cooking process which yielded one of the most memorable meals that I have eaten. Love at first bite.
Barbecuing is also nice, the frog being totally free of fat with a delicious taste like a moist chicken without any stringiness.
It needs a little flavour, and Rachel, chef for the day, decided on a blended mix of salt, green chilli and lemongrass blended well with a little cilantro (coriander), and oil until it forms a fine puree.
The frogs are tossed in the seasoning mix, then grilled over glowing charcoal embers, dripping, spitting and hissing as the smoke and flames caress them.
For a simple, no-fuss way to cook fresh, plump frogs, give this a try.
Great with a beer or a crisp wine – look for something with a hint of sweet like a Gewurztraminer if your chilli is on the scorching side, and something crisp and acidic like a rose, Sauvignon Blanc or riesling if it is milder.
Pick up the legs and eat them like chicken wings and you'll fall in love with frog meat.
I'd love to hear from any expats in SE Asia that I've managed to convert into trying this, although horrified others are welcome to leave comments too.
Another of my more memorable frog meals was a "gop pad ka prao" in Phuket, a place which had an excess of huge meaty frogs every wet season.
It was chopped, quickly fried, then tossed in the wok with holy basil, garlic, chilli and oyster sauce. Divine.
Even with my dislike of bony things, when the legs were finished I was working on the remaining bits.
This was also a great feed. Thanks Mrs Chef-a-gogo. <tips hat>
Have you tried frog? What's your favourite frog recipe or cooking style? Just scroll to the top of this article to post a comment