China Diaries: Bullfrog Hot Pot
Frog is big in Shanghai. Frog dishes are on almost all menus. It's like the chicken of America.
As someone living most of my life between the Bay Area and Tokyo, my encounters with culinary frog have been sadly few and far between. I remember eating frog as a child once when in Taiwan, but I was 5 and all I wanted was a Happy Meal.
Frogs were hard to avoid in Shanghai. We literally walked by a guy thunking frogs on the street! Swift and efficient.
Some lucky patrons were about to eat some seriously fresh reptile.
On another day, we went to an ancient water town called Fengjing and saw food stalls selling grilled frog legs. This was one of my first encounters of frog since arriving in China and the literal presentation of these frog legs was a little off-putting. I didn't try any, but I took a photo anyway.
On our second to last day in Shanghai, I really wanted to try crawfish. And so we went to a little Sichuan restaurant called Zhuwu Sichuan Restaurant near Shaanxi Lu Station specializing in crawfish that I found on the internet (sans Google).
First came some tea.
Then came the gloves. We were famished and this was a good sign. It was time to dig in.
The crawfish came stir fried with chili oil. No surprise there since this was a Sichuan joint. The crawfish tasted fresh and plump.
Close up crawfish.
And then one of us (probably my college friend Mei who currently lives in Beijing and met up with us in Shanghai) had the brilliant idea of ordering the gānguō niúwā or Bullfrog Hot Pot. This is a dry style hot pot, meaning contents are wok tossed in a pot and there is no soup. The pot got placed directly on our table.
And then the gloves came off (literally and figuratively). This was real game time.
Not only does this dish come with frogs legs, celery root and rice cakes, it also come with POTATO CHIPS. There are still so many things to discover in this life!
The frog legs were crispy and tender. The texture was a hybrid of white fish and chicken -- a dream come true. This dish was also spicy (like everything else in Sichuan cuisine) and addictive. After this came to the table, all three of us abandoned the crawfish... Sorry crawfish!
I didn't know how much I liked frog until discovering this dish. I love chicken and fish, and I'm not a huge fan of fatty meats so this semi-aquatic animal tantalized my taste buds. I couldn't stop eating the frog pieces and ate the meat clean off the bone.
Frogs rule in Shanghai. I hope they start hopping onto more menus in the Bay Area.
ZHUWU SICHUAN RESTAURANT
145 Shaanxi S Rd
Lu Wan Qu, Shanghai