In Pursuit of Jumpin' Jack Splash
the coontail, leaving hardly a ripple.
I plotted my next campaign throughout the winter, but when I returned the following summer, Jeremiah was no longer there. Did he perish during the winter? Did another predator claim him, or did his brush with fate cause him to relocate? That is just one of frogging’s enduring mysteries.
For as long as I have been frogging, I have heard people say I am crazy for venturing into snake-infested waters at night and grabbing frogs with my bare hands without knowing what lurks in the shadows. I figure there are no more snakes at night than during the day, and I am not going to let a few reptiles keep me indoors. In half a century of frogging, I have seen exactly one venomous snake. It was holed up in a root wad, minding its own business. I am inclined to believe this danger exists mostly in other people’s heads.
The Legler Scale
Fisheries biologist Bob Legler, now retired, taught me much about frogging lore, including a unique grading system based on frog size. Bob strove to fill his limit with either “jumbos”—frogs measuring approximately as long as his hand—or “superjumbos”—anything bigger than jumbo. I have developed my own system of size classes based on the names of froggers I have known. I withhold those categories to avoid hard feelings, but I encourage you to devise your own.
Before you can enjoy frog legs, you have to clean them. Start by dispatching live frogs with a sharp blow to the head. Next, use game shears to separate the legs from the torso at the waist. Next, slide a fillet knife between the skin and the flesh of each leg and slice through the skin. Catfish-skinning pliers or a pair of jersey gloves will aid in gripping and removing the slippery skin. Soak the skinned legs in saltwater.
Contrary to what some people say, frog legs don’t taste like chicken. Crappie is closer to the truth. They do move a little when dropped into hot oil, but it takes an overactive imagination to say they kick or hop.
Almost any fish recipe can be used for frog legs. Here are two of my favorites.
Frog legs in garlic sauce
Thoroughly dry six large frog legs. Melt four tablespoons of butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add one rounded teaspoon of chopped garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the frog legs and simmer until lightly browned. Turn and brown the other side. Remove frog legs to a serving plate and place in a warm oven. Add 3/4 cup of chopped green onion to the frying pan and cook until the onions are wilted. Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine and simmer, using a spatula to remove and dissolve the residue from the bottom of the pan. Reduce this stock by half, then pour over the frog legs and serve with thick slices of toasted and buttered sourdough bread.
Remove 1 pound of frog legs from saltwater. Do not dry. Sprinkle liberally with commercial Cajun seasoning. Mix three teaspoons of Cajun seasoning with one cup of flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge frog legs in flour. Heat six tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the frog legs in oil on medium heat for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and brown other side. Add one cup chopped green onions and cook another minute. Add 1 cup canned, diced tomatoes and simmer for two minutes. Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine and cook another two minutes. Add more Cajun seasoning if needed and serve over rice.