Frog legs--delicacy or eco-issue? Local restaurants weigh in
We asked some local eateries and wholesalers their thoughts on Save the Frogs's claims and about frog legs in general. So should you worry about the frogs or gobble down that tasty appetizer?
While an interesting argument, it may not apply to the legs that appear on your plate in the Twin Cities. All the restaurants and wholesalers we spoke with deal in frozen, farm-raised product from China or Japan. According to Coastal Seafood's Tim Lauer, the Rana catesbeiana he stocks is farmed "intensively," which means the frogs never have contact with the outside world. They are processed and frozen on site, and only the legs arrive here, frozen in pairs. A fear of salmonella and a range of flavor that wasn't always palatable caused Coatal Seafoods and others to eschew the wild varieties altogether. The farm-raised legs have a mild and more standard taste. Two other area wholesalers concur, saying that the trade has gotten more sanitary with the rise of modern Asian frog farms. All they see are frozen legs, and never live frogs. Wild amphibs are still caught down south, in a process called "gigging" but none of the wholesalers handle that product any more.
We also spoke with a few restaurants that serve them regulary (Cavé Vin and Taste of Thailand II) and some who feature them from time to time (Sanctuary and Cafe Levain). All said their legs, sourced from various wholesalers, are all Asian farm-raised and come in frozen pairs or saddles, as they are called in the business. And while local French restaurants get requests for them, frog legs are not overly popular in these parts, appearing much less frequently on area menus than escargot or foie gras.
So what's the right thing to do? It's your choice, though if you opt for the eating, Cavé Vin has a sauteed appetizer with butter, lemon and garlic, while Taste of Thailand II serves them chopped in a hot basil stir fry entree.