How to catch, clean and cook frogs

Most Europeans think frogs as food is in the French department, and in the U.S., it’s primarily Southern states.

But frog legs are popular in a lot of countries. In fact, the world consumes 3.2 billion frogs every year.

If you plan on joining in the frog feast, we have some pointers for you on how to go about it.

How to catch frogs for eating

If you grew up on a farm or rural area with access to a body of water, there is a big chance you already know how to catch frogs using at least one method.

For those who never tried it, don’t worry. Catching frogs doesn’t require too much skill.

Depending on the state, different laws regulate catching methods, gear, and times. You may be required to possess a hunting or fishing license as well.

Before you go out to catch frogs, make sure you check the regulations so you don’t get in trouble.

Grabbing

There are few methods for catching frogs, and one that doesn’t require any special tools is to simply grab them with your bare hands.

The best time to do this is after dark. Some states allow you to use a light after dark to catch frogs. In that case, you will need a very bright flashlight. Make sure you also bring a net with small eyes to carry the frogs. 

When you spot a frog, shine the light directly in its eyes. It should effectively blind the frog. Without making shadows over the frog, creep up quietly, and grab the frog with your hand. 

Your best bet is to grab it from behind if possible.

In states that don’t allow the use of light after dark, you can still shine the light from the distance to spot the frog, but you cannot blind it with the light.

You have to be more stealthy and fast to grab them, but it’s still doable and, most times, a lot of fun as well.

How to catch, clean and cook frogs

The second simple method of catching frogs is by using a handheld dip net. This method is rather self-explanatory, but remember to have a net with small eyes. Frogs can easily squeeze through some tight spaces!

Fishing

Another method is fishing. Yes, surprisingly, fishing for frogs is also effective.

For that, you need a bamboo stick, cane pole, or simply fishing rod. There are a number of lures you can use, like crickets, minnows, small frogs, or even the treble hook with a piece of red cloth.

Frog fishing takes place during daylight when you can easily spot frogs and cast your lures in front of them. That limits the possibility of hooking something you are not planning on fishing for.

Gigging

If the law in your state allows you to kill frogs while out catching them, you can try using a gig, spear, or small pitchfork. This practice is called frog gigging.

Despite a slightly different look, all of them are designed for stabbing the frog through its body. 

They are all made from a long pole with a varying number of prongs at the end. The pole for frog gigging is usually between 5-8 ft long. 

To perform frog gigging, you can use a boat or walk along the shore. Depending on the state laws, you can do it either at night with a flashlight or during the daytime. 

Shooting

For someone used to firearms, there is a chance in few states to go bow hunting for frogs, use air rifle with .177 lead pellet or .22 caliber with birdshot. 

Types of frogs you can catch

How to catch, clean and cook frogs

Humans know over 7000 species of frogs, but there are only a few edible and even fewer that people commonly eat out of that number.

Bullfrog

The most popular frog in the U.S. is the American bullfrog. It grows to around 6 inches long from snout to vent, making it an excellent meal. 

The bullfrog is a native species to Eastern U.S. but has been introduced to other states, Canada, and few European countries, where it is considered invasive species.

You can recognize this frog by its dark olive color on the upper side with easily seen eardrums behind their eyes. 

Leopard Frog

Another type of edible frog in America is a Northern and Southern leopard frog, called after a discernible leopard pattern covering its body. 

They grow up to 5 inches long from nose to rump. They are greenish-brown in color with the aforementioned dark spots on their backs.

Pig Frog

Pig frog, the third of American edible frogs, is often mistaken for a bullfrog. 

It is green or grayish-green in color and measures up to 5 inches from snout to vent. 

It got its name from the snorting sound reminding pig oinking.

Bronze Frog

Native to the southeast U.S., the bronze frog is next on the list of edible frogs.

It grows to 4 inches long, mouth to rump. It is brown on its dorsal side with a white belly with a distinctive green upper lip. 

Edible Frog

Not found in America but very popular in Europe is a common water frog, known as an edible frog.

It grows up to 4 inches long, snout to vent. Its color varies from brownish-green, brown, olive-green, to yellow.

They also sport dark spots on their backs and legs.

Very popular species eaten in many European countries are imported from Turkey (Anatolian water frog) or Indonesia (Javan giant frog and Asian brackish frog). 

How do you kill a frog before cleaning

How to catch, clean and cook frogs

The best way to quickly and humanely kill the frog is to hit it hard in the head

If the frog is small enough for you to grip securely, you can hold it by its legs with one hand upside down and slam it down on the edge of the hard surface.

In the case of a bigger frog, you can use a priest, like in the case of the fish.

Another option is to chop the frog’s head off with a very sharp knife or cleaver. 

You don’t need a lot of strength for that, although if you are not comfortable enough to swing the cleaver, you would have to press a little bit harder on the knife to sever the head from the body.

A different method is to stab a frog’s brain with a sharp knife. You don’t need a big knife, but it requires a sharp point. You drive it through the middle of the frog’s head. 

How to clean frogs

Cleaning a frog is not very complicated. You can even compare it to skinning a squirrel. 

Because the rigor mortem in the frog’s case sets really slow, the best thing is to cut the legs off straight after killing the frog

Cut them at hips (where belly meets legs – the narrowest part).

Once you cut the legs off, you can pull the skin right off like a pair of pants. You will need to pull hard to get the skin separated from the flesh, or you can also make small cuts on the bottom part between the legs just under the skin to separate the tissue.

Once you pulled the skin to the feet, just cut them off at the joints.

Can you eat the whole frog? 

Usually, people consume only back legs from a frog. That’s because they have the most meat on them.

If you catch a particularly big frog, you can also try eating the front legs, and there should also be some meaty backstrap on them.

Although you can eat the whole frog if you are very determined, there is usually not much meat to pick from the frog apart from its legs. 

Make sure to skin the frog first. Edible frogs are not poisonous, but it is safer not to eat the skin. 

Since the frog skin is always moist, it is a great spot for bacteria, especially salmonella. 

Besides, the skin tends to be chewy and hard to bite, with a very strong taste and generally not pleasant to eat.

I wouldn’t bother trying any internal organs. They are way too small to make any part of your meal, considering the amount of time it will take to prepare them.

Additionally, considering what frogs usually eat, it’s probably not the best idea to consume their internal organs anyway.

Are frogs legs safe to eat

How to catch, clean and cook frogs

Frog legs are safe to eat if they are coming from an edible species of frog. 

In fact, frog legs have a lot of protein, vitamin A, potassium and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Like with any other meat, you still need to handle frog meat with care.

It is best to clean your hands properly, and also any surfaces frog meat will be touching, and of course, the frog meat itself.

Although many people think you should always consume cooked frogs, there are places in Japan that serve raw frog meat, so-called “frog sashimi.”

Considering there is always a possibility to get hit by parasites when consuming raw frog meat, we recommend thoroughly cooking your frogs before consumption.

What do frogs legs taste like

A lot of people would say frog legs taste like chicken. Others would claim the taste is something between chicken and fish.

While eating battered and pan-fried frog legs, I tried to think what do they taste like to me. 

I would safely say they taste nothing like chicken but also nothing like fish.

Frog legs have a unique taste. Frog meat is rather on the sweet side, juicy, relatively mild compared to other meats, and has this fresh quality to it. 

It is very soft when you bite and chew it, and if I had to compare it to something else, I couldn’t find anything quite like it.

How to cook frogs

There are many ways of cooking frog legs. The recipe usually depends on location and culture.

An easy way to cook frogs is barbeque. This way of cooking is most common in Southern U.S.

Many people would eat frog meat pan-fried or deep-fried with batter. It is a very common way in Europe and few Asian countries and is personally one of my favorites.

Others would try the stew or frog legs soup. This is a specialty of Asian cuisine, but also known in France.

The most curious way of cooking frogs is a frog porridge—a typical Southeast Asian dish not common in other parts of the world.