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Frog legs are one of the better-known delicacies of French and Cantonese cuisine. They are also eaten in other parts of the world, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the state of Kerala in India, the Alentejo region of Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, northwest Greece, and Northern Italy, as well as the Southern regions of the United States. Currently the world's largest exporter of frogs is Indonesia, also a large consumer. In regions such as Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean many frogs are still caught wild. Frog legs are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and potassium. They are often said to taste like chicken because of their mild flavor, with a texture most similar to chicken wings. The taste and texture of frog meat is approximately between chicken and fish. Frogs are raised commercially in certain countries, e.g. Vietnam. Frog muscle does not resolve rigor mortis as quickly as warm-blooded muscle (chicken, for example), so heat from cooking can cause fresh frog legs to twitch.
Each year about US$40 million worth of frogs legs are traded internationally, with most countries in the world participating in this trade. The world's top importers of frogs legs are France, Belgium and the United States, while the biggest international exporters are Indonesia and China. While these figures don't account for domestic consumption, when production from frog farms is taken into account, it is conservatively estimated that humans consume up to 3.2 billion frogs for food around the world every year.
Movement of live or unfrozen, unskinned amphibians is one potential way in which deadly amphibian diseases such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus may be transported around the world, and despite recommendations on preventing disease spread from the OIE, which regulates the international spread of epizootic diseases, few countries have adopted these recommendations as law.
Many environmentalists urge the restriction of frog consumption—especially those harvested from the wild—because amphibian populations are declining and frogs are an essential element of ecosystem. Conservationists warn that gastronomic demand for frogs is seriously depleting regional populations. Frogs are sensitive to environmental changes, disease, habitat degradation, and pollution.
According to Jewish dietary laws, all kinds of reptiles and amphibians are considered unclean animals. Frog legs are non-kosher food, and are forbidden to be consumed by Jewish people who observe Kosher dietary rules.
Frog meat is widely considered as haraam (non-halal) meat according to mainstream Islamic dietary laws. Frog meat fell under non-halal category on two prepositions; the meat to be consumed should not considered disgusting, and frog together with ant, bee, and sea birds are the animals that should not be killed by Muslims. This frog legs haraam status had sparked the controversy in Demak, Indonesia, where the official authority urged the swikee restaurant owners not to associate swikee with Demak city, since it will tarnish Demak image as the first Islamic city in Java, and also opposed by its inhabitants that mainly follow Shafi'i school that forbade the consumption of frog. Within Islamic dietary law there is some debates and differences about the consumption of frog legs. The mainstream Islamic madhhab (school) of Shafi'i, Hanafi and Hanbali strictly forbid the consumption of frog, however according to the school Maliki consuming frog is allowed only on certain type of frogs; the green frog commonly found in ricefields, while other species especially with blistered skin is considered poisonous, unclean and disgusting and should not be consumed.
Frog legs in world cuisines
Frogs legs or cuisses de grenouille are particularly traditional in the region of the Dombes (département of Ain). Widespread consumption is relatively recent occurring within two hundred years.
The dish is common as well in French speaking parts of Louisiana, particularly the Cajun areas of Southern Louisiana as well as New Orleans. They were introduced to New Orleans by Donat Pucheu. Only the upper joint of the hind leg is served, which has a single bone similar to the upper joint of a chicken or turkey wing. They are commonly prepared by frying or deep frying, sometimes breaded and sometimes unbreaded.
In Indonesian cuisine, frog-leg soup is known as swikee or swike, most probably brought by the Chinese community in Indonesia and popular in Chinese Indonesian cuisine. Swikee is mainly frog-leg soup with strong taste of garlic, gingers, and fermented soya beans (tauco), accompanied with celery or parsley leaves. Swikee is a typical dish from Purwodadi Grobogan, in Central Java province. There is also fried frog-legs in margarine and sweet soy sauce or tomato sauce, battered deep fried, grilled frog-legs or frog eggs in banana leaves (pepes telur kodok). The Javanese also eat the dried and crispily fried frog skin. The taste is close to the fried fish skin.
Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of frog meat, exporting more than 5000 tonnes of frog meat each year, mostly to France, Belgium and Luxemburg. Most of the supply in western Europe comes from frog farms in Indonesia, however there is concern that the frog legs from Indonesia were poached from wild frog populations that may be endangering wild amphibians.
Frog legs (žabji kraki) are a popular dish in the Slovenian cuisine, especially in areas of eastern Slovenia (Prekmurje and north-eastern Styria). They are also quite popular in the country's capital, Ljubljana, and have been considered as the "basis of the traditional city cuisine of Ljubljana". Up to modern times, they have been traditionally considered Lent food, and were especially popular in spring. They are also a popular traditional dish in the Vipava Valley in western Slovenia and are served in numerous restaurants in the Slovenian Littoral.
Frog legs are also popular in some parts of Croatia, especially in the Gorski kotar region in the northwest of the country. They are considered a specialty in the Lokve municipality, where they are served cooked, fried or in a stew, sometimes with polenta on the side.
In the western part of Spain, Extremadura, frog legs are served deeply fried. They are a delicacy among its citizens.
Frog legs are eaten in parts of the Southern United States, also eaten in Eastern states, but not common. Particularly in the Deep South and Gulf states where French influence is more prominent, including South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The most common kinds of frogs eaten are bullfrogs and leopard frogs, as these are abundant in most of the country, including the South. Although the consumption of wild native frogs is generally discouraged, the harvest and cooking of invasive bullfrogs, especially in the Western US, has been encouraged as a form of control and to promote local food.
Some methods of cooking include egg/cracker crumb breading or battered. They are either fried or grilled. Deep fried frog legs can also be found at fairs.
Cooked bones of frog's legs have been discovered in an archaeological dig in Amesbury Wiltshire, dating back to between 7596BC and 6250BC, evidence that it was part of the local diet. Some view this as evidence the English ate them before the French.
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