A story in yesterday's New York Times has me thinking about frogs' legs. The story details France's historic obsession with the amphibian delicacy. The passion has waned as tastes have changed and a ban in the '80s made it illegal to trade in French frogs. Still, some restaurants hang on to the culinary tradition, making use of imported frogs or farm-bred animals not affected by the ban.
Frogs' legs are on menus in Dallas as well. The most obvious sighting (given the strong French tradition) is served at Toulouse on Knox Street, where they're prepared a la Provençal, with garlic, capers, olives and tomatoes. They're more Americanized at Nova, where they're treated like chicken wings (they do taste similar), fried and served with celery and blue cheese.
My favorite frogs' legs can be ordered at the newly opened Mot Hai Ba in East Dallas. Jeana Johnson says the dish they serve is inspired by a meal they had at a collection of street stalls, which was served by a waitstaff. "Our waiter said if you don't get this, you're really missing the best thing," Johnson said. It was inspiring enough that she's recreated the dish at her new Vietnamese restaurant.
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Johnson fries the legs in a light tempura -- the crunchy delicate breading laced with fresh dill. Dipped in a subtly sweetened fish sauce, the fragrant herb pops, and the meat encased in the coating is moist and tender. It's a great appetizer, but watch out for the tiny bones.