A traditional dish, this bamboo cooking technique was created to preserve the ethnic minority of cooking in Dalat.
- 2 frogs, quartered (see note)
- 1 handful Vietnamese mint, kept on the stem
- 1 pole fresh bamboo, about 40 cm long
- 20 cm piece banana leaf or baking paper
- 3 bird's eye chillies, sliced
- 4 cm piece ginger, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 stalks lemongrass (white part only), sliced
- 1 handful round mint leaves, sliced
- 1 handful coriander sprigs, sliced
- 1 handful saw-tooth coriander leaves, sliced
- 2 tsp sea salt
- steamed sticky rice
- soy sauce with fresh chilli, for dipping
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat a charcoal barbecue to high heat.
1. For the paste, place all the ingredients into a mortar and pestle and pound until a course paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl, add the frog pieces and stir to coat well.
2. Take a piece of frog and wrap it with a stalk of Vietnamese mint, then place it into the bamboo pole. Repeat with the remaining pieces of frog. Enclose the open end of the bamboo with the banana leaf. Char-grill the bamboo at a 45-degree angle for 30 minutes, rotating the bamboo every 10 minutes.
Once cooked, rest the bamboo vertically on your bench and remove the banana leaf from the top.
3. Place a heavy cleaver on the middle top part of the bamboo, then use some force to cut through the bamboo slightly leaving the cleaver lodged in the bamboo. Now carefully rest the bamboo horizontally on the bench, then twist the cleaver in an upwards direction breaking the bamboo in half, revealing the cooked frog.
Garnish with remaining Vietnamese mint and serve with steamed sticky rice and soy chilli dipping sauce.
Whole, fresh frogs are not available for sale in Australia. You can find frozen frog legs in select Asian grocers.
Catch Luke Nguyen on the tracks dishing up Vietnamese fare in the brand-new series, Luke Nguyen's Railway Vietnam.