KitchenTigress: Gong Bao Frog Legs

Gong Bao Frog Legs

Back when I was a little girl living in a kampong, I jumped with joy whenever it rained at night.


Because my father would go frog hunting, and there would be a big pot of frog porridge for supper.

(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.)

Frogs come out of hiding when it rains. My father didn't use any bait to catch wild frogs. He didn't use any special equipment either. He basically just reached out and grabbed the frogs that were croaking the loudest.

How to slaughter frogs?

One at a time. My father grabbed each frog firmly around the armpits, then chopped off its heads. This required a bit of skill because he had to leave the head half attached rather than lop it off completely. 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.

The farmed frogs I buy now can't compare to the wild frogs of my childhood. The texture and flavour isn't as good, so they're suitable for strong seasoning. The Szechuan style, with chillies, Szechuan peppercorns and vinegar, is perfect.

(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
2-4 bird's eye chillies, 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

1. Rub light soya sauce, salt and wine into frogs. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.

2. 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 chillies. 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.

3. Taste and if necessary adjust seasoning. Add just enough potato flour and water mixture to thicken sauce. Turn off heat and stir through white sesame oil. Plate and serve immediately.