The first time I ever experienced frog legs, I was working at a country club for a French chef. As a young man in a small town, you don’t ever see things like frog legs so I thought they were one of the fanciest things I’d ever encountered. I’ve always been kind of enamored by things I’ve never seen before, so I still like using these kinds of products when I have the chance. That’s why, when I saw the frog legs at the new Market District, I kind of reminisced a bit and wanted to buy some.
You get a small amount of meat from frog legs and it’s a different sort of meat – it’s light in a way but it’s also dark, strong meat (not strong tasting, but strong as in the animal is strong). In my opinion, if you’re not sautéing it or flash-frying it, you’re not really doing it justice. When you braise frog legs or put them in soup, then it just falls apart and ends up tasting like chicken (as they say). But if you cook it quick and fast, you get more of the unique frog flavor. With there being a little bit of darkness in the meat, you can spice it up — and I always like using lemon because it gives a clean flavor to the meat.
For this dish, I was lucky to find some batata locally. I used to work with a couple of Dominican cats and they introduced me to the whole South American root vegetable scene: yucca, batata, etc. A lot of these vegetables have an inherent sweetness to them (almost like a sugar) that, say, a traditional potato wouldn’t have. They’re incredible.
They’re really nice to mix in with mashed potatoes to give it a different flavor. You know I love making hashes – there’s so much more to do than just the regular corned beef hash, for example – and root vegetables like batata match well with a multitude of flavors (not just South American) so I thought it would pair really well with these purple sweet potatoes I bought.
zest from ½ variegated pink lemon
1 Tablespoon hickory smoked salt
1 Tablespoon raw sugar
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chipotle
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 cup semolina flour
Put all of your ingredients (except for the cornstarch and semolina flour) into a spice mixer and grind into a fine powder. When done, toss with your cornstarch and semolina flour and set aside.
For the hash:
¼ medium Spanish onion, small diced
1 medium purple sweet potato, small diced
1 medium batata, small diced
1 jalapeno, pulp only (no seeds or ribs), fine chopped
¼ cup sweet bell pepper, small diced
2 carrots, small diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Saute onions with a touch of salt until caramelized, then add the remainder of your ingredients. Add salt to taste (again) if needed. Keep sautéing the hash mix until golden brown. If your pan starts getting a little dark, you can deglaze it with white wine, chicken stock, or water. This will also help speed up the cooking process and pull that flavor out of the pan so it doesn’t burn. This should be done over medium high heat for about 15 minutes.
For the frog legs:
For this recipe, I’d recommend using about 4-5 sets of frog legs. First bring your saute pan up to medium high heat (about 3-5 minutes to preheat) and coat with safflower oil. Meanwhile, dredge your frog legs in the seasoning mix and pat off any excess.
Pan fry until golden brown on either side (until the meat is cooked), which should take about 5-10 minutes. You might have to adjust your heat depending on oven/pan type.
Drizzle the fig remoulade from this recipe over top and then enjoy!