Ech chien bo or fried frog legs is a classic accompaniment for late night drinking in Vietnam. You can usually find this dish in any countryside or city sidewalk cafes. I have a theory that this dish came about because frogs were abundant back in the day and chicken was more expensive. Frog legs are eaten in France and many other parts of the world, but not necessarily in the US. Additionally, frog legs tend to have higher water content than chicken, so they will keep the moisture better during cooking. I know my fellow Americans will likely be turned off by frog legs, but give them a try and you will be pleasantly surprised with the burst of flavor. Alternatively, you can also use chicken for this dish.
This recipe serves 2 people and is moderately difficult.
1 lb of frog legs (about 6 frog legs or 3 pairs) You can buy this at a Chinese market or Chinatown. Alternatively, you can also use chicken or pork.
1/2 cup of diced onion
¼ cup of diced green onion
1 cup of flour
Panko (enough to fill a plate for coating the meat)
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoon of minced garlic for the marinade
4 cloves of minced garlic for the sauteing
3 tablespoon of butter
1 ½ teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
Vegetable oil for deep frying
2 tablespoon of olive oil for sauteing
Juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
Optional for plating:
Any salad greens
Split the frog legs into 2 pieces if they are not separated.
Wring out all the excess water.
Cut a slit on each side of the leg to allow for the marinade to seep through and to help get a better texture when they are cooked. Frog legs can be a little tough like chicken if not prepared properly.
In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and ½ teaspoon of sugar together.
Add the frog legs and massage the marinade into the meat, especially the slits.
Let the meat marinate for at least 1 hour to allow for the marinade to seep through.
Prepare the 4 cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup diced onions and ¼ cup of diced green onions to sautee.
Prepare the dredging station with 2 plates. Fill one plate with egg and the other with panko.
Strain the marinade from the bowl with frog legs.
Using the same bowl, add 1 cup of flour and mix well. The goal is to lightly coat the frog legs so they will stick to the egg and panko.
Shake off the excess flour and lightly coat the meat with egg and another coating of panko. Set aside.
In a pot, fill it halfway with oil or enough so that you can deep fry the frog legs. Heat the pot on medium high.
Fry each of the legs until they are golden brown. Do not crowd the pan, otherwise the temperature of the oil will drop and ruin the crispiness.
To allow the oil to drain properly while maintaining the crispiness, use a cooling rack like shown below. This allows the air to circulate while cooling the meat.
In a large pan that allows tossing the meat around, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat the pan on medium.
Add the garlic, onion and green onions that you have prepared earlier to the pan. Add this in succession as each ingredient cooks at different speeds. Garlic goes in first to lightly brown, then the onions and green onions (“trifecta”).
When the trifecta starts to brown, add 3 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of sugar and the frog legs to the pan.
Toss all the ingredients around so the legs are evenly coated with butter sauce. This should take 3-4 full toss. Turn off the heat.
Add a beds of greens to the plate. I recommend spinach or any salad greens.
Add a few slices of tomatoes.
Add the frog legs and pour remaining butter sauce from the pan over the whole plate.
Serve with the dipping sauce (lime, salt and pepper).