Curried frogs' legs

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
4 \N Pairs of jumbo frog's legs (about 1 pound), trimmed
1 \N Stalk fresh lemon grass, or 1 tablespoon dried lemon grass
2 \N Fresh red chile peppers, seeded and sliced
2 \N Shallots, sliced
2 \N Garlic cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Curry paste
2 teaspoons Curry powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Nuoc nam (Vietnamese fish sauce)
2 ounces Cellophane (bean thread) noodles
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
1 \N Small onion, chopped
1 cup Chicken broth or water
½ cup Coconut milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
\N \N Freshly ground black pepper
\N \N Coriander sprigs, for garnish

This delicious lemon grass and coconut-laced curry comes from southern Vietnam. If you prefer a very hot curry, simply use more chile peppers.

Cut the frogs' legs into bite-size pieces. Rinse with cold water to remove any chipped bones. Pat dry and refrigerate.

If you are using fresh lemon grass, discard the outer leaves and upper half of the stalk. Cut into thin slices and finely chop. If you are using dried lemon grass, soak it in warm water for 1 hour. Drain and finely chop.

In a blender, combine the lemon grass with the chiles, shallots, garlic, sugar, curry paste, curry powder, salt and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Process to a very fine paste. Rub the paste over the frogs' legs. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak the cellophane noodles in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain. Cut into 2-inch sections.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the frogs' legs and brown well on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover the pan and add the coconut milk, the cornstarch diluted in 1 tablespoon of cold water and the remaining 1 table- spoon fish sauce. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Add the cellophane noodles and bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with coriander sprigs.

Serve immediately with rice, French bread or over rice noodles.

Note: Instead of discarding the upper half of the lemon grass, crush it and cook it with the frogs' legs for extra flavor. Remove the stalk before serving.

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