The frogs my father caught were wild and, of course, live. If my memory serves me correctly, he didn't use any bait or special equipment except a torchlight. He basically just reached out and grabbed the ones that were croaking the loudest.
(If you're a frog reading this, remember not to croak too loudly when it rains, and my father is in your neighbourhood. And you should leave this blog post immediately, because you really don't want to read the next bit.)
To slaughter a frog, my father grabbed it firmly around the armpits, then chopped off their heads. This required a bit of skill because he had to leave the head half attached rather than lop it off completely. And do so without hacking off his own hand, of course. Next, he grabbed hold of the head and yanked, tearing out the entire skin and the insides as he pulled all the way down. The body, now headless, naked and emptied, would take a while to stop twitching.
The frogs tasted like chicken, but much, much better. The texture was finer and smoother, and the meat was much sweeter. Mind you that was compared to home-bred and truly organic, free-range chicken that ran around the kampong, not the farmed rubbish sold nowadays.
Have you heard about the zi char stall in Geylang that charges $78 for frog legs? (Click here for the story if you haven't.)
If I could have the frog legs I had when I was a child, I would gladly pay $78 or, what the hell, even $128. But I'm guessing the Geylang frogs are just regular stuff – in other words, intensively farmed and therefore pretty tasteless. I paid $6.90 for three at the supermarket yesterday and, trust me, they weren't worth one cent more. Don't be a sucker!
A belated happy Father's Day to all fathers, especially those who work hard to put frog legs on the table.
|GONG BAO FROG LEGS (宫保田鸡)|
(Recipe for 4 persons)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
3 frogs (325 g), wash and chop each into 7 pieces
1½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 piece ginger, thumb size, peel, rinse and slice thinly
4 cloves garlic, peel, rinse and slice thinly
4 stalks spring onion, white part only, rinse and cut 2 cm long
15 dried chillies, cut 2 cm long, and discard seeds that fall out
2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
cili padi (bird's eye chillies) to taste, 2-4 pieces, rinse and halve lengthwise
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (镇江醋), or any mild, black vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp potato flour, mix with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp white sesame oil
Rub light soya sauce, salt and wine into frogs. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
Stir-fry ginger in hot oil over high heat till lightly brown. Add garlic and stir till colour changes. Add spring onions, dried chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and cili padi. Stir till fragrant, reducing heat if necessary so that dried chillies and peppercorns don't burn. Add frogs and stir till heated through. Add wine, vinegar, soya sauce and sugar. Stir till absorbed. Add enough water to cover half of meat, about ¼ cup. Continue stirring till legs are cooked, a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add just enough potato flour and water mixture to thicken sauce. Turn off heat and stir through white sesame oil. Plate and serve immediately.