A dish commonly associated with France, and hence the reason why the British and other non-French nationals sometimes call French people "Frogs" -- it's short for "frog-eaters." (The French, similarly, call the English "les biftecks" {the beefsteaks}.)

My father, who has always been one who appreciates good food and is not intimidated by cooking it, once bought a tin of canned frogs' legs. It was one of those number ten cans, about 6 lbs in weight. The intent was to saute them in butter and garlic. The thing that sticks in my mind about the whole episode is that there were only left legs in the can.

Now we all remember that line from The Muppet Movie from the scene in which Doc Hopper, the frog-leg-restaurant-chain-king and Kermit the Frog standoff:
Kermit the Frog: I look at you, at your business, and all I can think about is frogs on crutches.
And it was all I could think about when my father announced this observation over plates of grey-green finger food.

I seem to have lost my copy of the screenplay to The Muppet Movie, if anyone can correct this quotation, I would appreciate it.

Last night I cooked and ate frog legs for the first time. I've always wanted to try them but the only frogs I ever had access to were at a pond near my Dad's cottage and killing and eating those frogs, just to satisfy my own curiosity, always seemed a bit too barbaric, too personal.

So when I found frozen Frog Legs, product of Vietnam, at the local Sobeys I figured I could safely give them a try, since there was no way I'd ever met these frogs before.

The package I bought was a 400g bag that contained 5 pairs of frog legs. They cost about $6 Canadian. I left the frozen package in the refrigerator over night to thaw.

The legs come in pairs, still attached at the pelvis, and skinless. They're interesting to look at and it's easy to see how all the muscles are separate yet interconnected. They had the feet trimmed but not removed. It looked like the feet were cut about halfway up, enough to remove the toes but leave what I suppose is called the ankle.

When I opened the package I smelled the contents. They didn't smell bad, really, but they didn't smell like any food I'd had before. Maybe my mind is just doing some subconscious association, but I have to say that they smelled like stale water. Not rotten, but just "aged" is maybe the best way to put it.

I decided that anything from a pond is likely to smell like this and since they didn't smell like fish or rotten in any way, they were probably fine. It's been 24 hours now and I haven't keeled over, so I guess I was right.

On the package was a simple recipe for breading and frying the legs, which I followed. The recipe was pretty general when it came to quantities and it didn't even mention cooking temperature or time, so here's how I did it:

3 eggs
vegetable oil (the recipe called for lard but I didn't have any)
lemon juice

Mix the breadcrumbs with enough garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to meet your tastes. Like I said, the recipe on the package wasn't specific so I just added what looked like enough. I also used Italian breadcrumbs, which are already spiced so I didn't need to add much of anything.

Combine the eggs with lemon juice. I used about 2 tbsp of juice.

Heat enough oil in a frying pan to submerge half the depth of the frog legs. I used a little less than 1 cm deep.

Dip each set of legs in the egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumb mixture.

Lay them in the hot oil.

I cooked mine about 5 minutes per side, flipping only once. This made them a nice golden brown but I'll admit that they might have been overdone. The legs are pretty light and skinless, so I don't think it takes that much time to cook them. But I don't know what kinds of parasites come in frog legs, especially those from Vietnamese waters, so I didn't want to take any chances.

Remove from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel for a couple of minutes.


The review
Personally, I didn't like them breaded. I pulled most of it off so I could actually taste the meat. And unfortunately, as cliched as it is, they do taste like chicken. Or pretty close at least.

I'd say frog legs taste lighter than chicken. They're missing that sticky fat that chicken has, which also makes chicken a bit sweeter than frog.

Frog legs also have much thinner gristle or knuckle tissue at the joints and it's easily eaten without even noticing at first.

It's a bit disturbing to see that frogs have a similar ball and socket hip joint that humans have. Especially since those little pairs of legs look so much like tiny human legs wearing brown trousers when they're frying in the pan.

The leftover bones are light and delicate and you'll definitely know that you're not eating chicken, so don't bother trying to pass them off as that if you're planning to goof on someone. However, if you strip the meat off the bones first and then serve, you'd probably get away with it.

All in all I'd say frog legs are worth a try. They're not gross or strange tasting. They're pretty much just like chicken except in the bones. So if you're in it for the taste and expecting something really different and the fact that they're frog legs isn't different enough for you, then don't bother. But if you're just in it for the "so I can say I did it" qualification, go for it. This is an easy one.

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