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Jumping (like frogs and rabbits) in Jiangsu; Elsewhere, Too

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Unusual Ingredients

Summer Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(2) pages: 24 to 26

FROGS known as hashimo that are known botanically as Rana temporaroa chinsinensis, are amphibians known to live in the woods of China;s northeastern mountains. They have been called a 'flying dragons' and a 'hedgehog hydnum.' Some call them 'bear paws,' but that they are not.

We wrote about it more than a dozen years ago correctly calling it by another name, namely the 'snow frog.' That was in Flavor and Fortune's Volume 7(3) on pages 11 and 12. One of many special frogs, this one has been honored as one of four delicacies in China's northeast. What the other three are, in this instance, we know not, do you?

These are not the source of frogs legs that the French adore. Those are usually cut from hibernating frogs raised specifically for that purpose. Those legs are cut in one piece above the thigh muscle, and they often come skinned, trimmed, and pierced on a wooden skewer. Frogs legs are quick to cook, have a delicate flavor, and the French and the Chinese adore them.

Frogs legs can taste smooth and are commonly served in a rich sauce. The Chinese love theirs in a black bean sauce, and while many think of them as French, the Chinese also love them a lot. They also love a different part from a different frog and that is called 'snow jelly' and from a winter frog. This rare delicacy was written about in this magazine, as indicated.

Do find it listed on our website. Since it has been there, it has been referred to by many including Fuchsia Dunlop who discusses 'frog ovaries for dinner' in that item found at www.fuschiadunlop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/xue-ha-10.jpg

Called 'toad oil' on Wikipedia, they tell you that the Chinese say that it comes from "dried fatty tissue found near the fallopian tubes of true frogs." They also tell you that the Chinese call this ha ma you and sometimes refer to it as "fat frog" that was once available only to emperors.

Said to be many things such as hashima or hasma, many say it is the oviduct of this winter frog whose fat and protein content is only four percent of the total. This item has many hormones, is a traditional medicine used to nourish spleen, remove phlegm, and reduce internal heat. They also use this item from a very active jumping frog and prescribe it as both tonic and nutriment. Found in the Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning Provinces, which are in the Dongbei region, it is sold in dried irregular yellowish-white pieces.

Chinese chefs who use it say to soak it for up to four hours. It will expand some fifteen or more times; then clean off what one called "the sinews and other unnecessary parts." That same chap said to "steam it with wine, ginger, and water."

Many Chinese colleagues told us how to correctly prepare dried hasma or hashimo. They said to just put this pre-prepared part of the frog in a steamer once more for about half an hour or in the top of a double boiler with rock sugar and some crystallized fruit; most recommending cherries. If you do not do this last step, they say it has a slightly fishy aroma, is glutinous, and may be chewy. Several said they like it as its texture is close to that of tapioca.

When finished, that is when completely cooks, it should taste a bit sweet, have a special fragrance, an be a bit greasy. One last item, many said the best are those sun-dried and found around the ovaries and oviducts. All agreed it should feel slippery, have dark veins, and that chef needs to remove them.

One last thing, most chefs agreed that these dried items should come from frogs that live on ginseng sprouts. That can be why the Chinese consider this a delicacy. All agree that they come from females, and they will taste like chicken. So do other items considered a delicacy.

To re-hydrate the hasma, soak its pieces in cool water for four to six hours after which the veins are removed changing the water once or twice. Then boil it with six slices of fresh ginger, then blanch it in boiling water once or twice. Now cook it as the recipe directs.

RABBITS are also jumpers. Dried, they were written about on a bamboo slip that was unearthed at Mawandui, outside Changsha city. They were also written about in a classic work during the Zhou Dynasty. There, rabbits were one of six domestic animals, the same number of poultry items, and a like number of untamed animals in that text. As to these rabbits in this classic Zhou work, some were for funeral objects, and why they were was never discussed. Animals in that work were categorized in thee types based upon usage. These were for fur, leather, and fresh or dried meat. As to the meat of rabbits, their hind legs were preferred; they are the longer ones, responsible for their jumping.

Very few recipes ever appear for either of these jumpers in Chinese cookbooks. Searching our collection, we did find a handful for each of them; they appear below, and we suggest you jump for joy and make several of them no or set them aside for later.
Crystallized Hasma
6 to 8 Tablespoons white sugar crystals
3 Tablespoons dried hasma prepared as packaged directs
3 Tablespoons Shao Xing wine
3 slices fresh peeled ginger
10 crystallized cherries or another similarly prepared fruit
1. Dissolve the sugar crystals in a wok in two cups of boiing water, then add the ginger and the wine. Simmer for ten minutes efore adding the hasma, then steam for half an hour, changing the ater at least once.
2. Add the cherries and steam for another half an hour, then serve or use as directed.
Casserole of Hasma and Watermelon
2 to 3 pound watermelon, rind discarded, and cut into large cubes, and seeded
1 quart chicken stock
3 Tablespoons minced cured ham
3 Tablespoons dried hasma prepared as instructed
3 back Chinese mushrooms soaked stems discarded, and slivered
3 Tablespoons minced roast duck (optional)
2 to 4 shrimp, shells and veins discarded, then minced
3 to 4 inch piece of silk squash, peeled and angle-cut
4 to 5 slices lotus root, boiled until tender, then cut in wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground back pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon chicken broth paowed
1. Prepare all ingredients as indicated above.
2. In a large soup or stock pot, bring chicken stock to the boil, reduce to a simmer, then add the watermelon and all other ingredients, and simmer for twenty minutes, then serve.
Frog with Dried Tangerine Peel
! pouind frogs legs, skinned, each leg cut in half
3 ounces hasma, prepared as in the first recipe with this article
Peel of half a dried tangerine, soaked until soft, then slivered
3 slices fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
2 scallions, slivered at an angle
2 to 3 Tablespoons salted Sichuan vegetable, soaked in two cups of warm mater for ten minutes, then discard this water, and mince this vegetable
1 quart chicken broth (optional)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon ganulated sugar
1. Put one cup water in a wok, add the frogs legs, prepared hasma, and the softened tangerine peel and simmer for five minutes.
2. Next add the ginger, scallions, Sichuan vegetable, soy sauce, rice wine, and the sugar and simmer for eight more minutes, adding the broth if using this as a soup.
3. Finally, stir in the cornstarch minced with two tablespoons cold water, and stir for two minutes; then serve.
Frogs in Black Bean Sauce
3 to 5 pairs of frogs legs, separated, and each cut in half
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons black bean sauce
2 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce
a dash of chili sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup cooked and hot rice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with the same amount of cold water
1. Mix frogs leg pieces with the bean paste, oyster, and mushroom soy sauces, and the chili sauce.
2. Heat wok, add the oil, and stir-fry the frogs leg mixture for two minutes, then transfer to a steamer on top of a large bowl holding the cooked rice.
3. Steam for twelve minutes, then serve putting this hot bowl on a serving plate.
Vegetarian Frogs Legs
1 to 2 cups enoki mushrooms, dried in paper towels
1 cup vegetable oil
4 canned baby corns, each cut lengthwise into four
1 red piquant chili pepper, seeded and slivered lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon fermented black beans (optional)
1/2 green pepper, seeded and cut into thin pieces lengthwise
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
4 sprigs fresh coriander, each cut into four pieces
1.Heat oil in a wok or a deep pot and fry the mushrooms until they turn tan, then remove and save the oil for another use.
2. Into the drained but not dried wok or fry pan, fry the corn, chili pepper, and the black beans if using them, the green pepper slivers, and stir-fry for one minute, then add the soy sauce, cornstarch minced with two tablespoons of cold water, and the sugar, and stir-fry for one more minute.
3. Plate into a pre-heated serving bowl, stirring in half the coriander and putting the rest on top; then serve.
Fried Rabbit
2 rabbits, hind quarters only, meat prepared in slices, cross-cut on one surface
1 Teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rice wine
1 teaspoon chili sauce
2 egg whites
6 large shallots, peeled and each one cut in half
3 slices peeled fresh ginger
1 cup oil or melted lard
1 small green pepper, seeded and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Rub the rabbit pieces with the salt, mix with the rice wine, and set aside for ten minutes. Then mix in the chili sauce, egg whites, shallots, and ginger, and cover with plastic wrap and let this rest in the refrigerator for one hour.
2. Remove from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and set aside while heating the lard or oil, then fry the meat in the lard for two minutes, and then drain on paper towels. Add the green pepper cubes and fry for half a minute, then remove the meat and vegetable from the wok and set it aside to cool.
3. Return the meat to the wok or fry pan, and the pieces of green pepper, and stir-fry for one minute, then mix in the sesame oi, and serve.
Rabbit Stew, Dongbei Style
1 fresh rabbit, cut into eight to ten pieces
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
2 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 walnut-size knob of fresh ginger, cut into eighths
2 stalks celery, cut at an angle into one-inch pieces
1 large carrot. peeled and angle-cut into one-inch pieces
6-inch piece of daikon, peeled and angle cut into one-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons rice wine
1. Dust the rabbit with the flour and set aside for half an hour or until it wets.
2. Mix the three sauces, sugar, and the stock, and set this aside.
3. Heat a wok or a large fry pan, add the oil, and fry the rabbit for five minutes, turning often. Then add the ginger, celery, carrot, and all the vegetable pieces and stir-fry for two minutes, then add the daikon and stir-fry all for another minute.
4. Mix the sauces and toss with the rabbit. Now simmer for one hour.
5. Add the sesame oil and the wine, stir well, and serve.
Shredded Rabbit with Fish Flavor
!/2 pound rabbit meat, shredded
3 Tablespoon lard
2 slices fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
2 red peppers, seeded and slivered
2 scallions, angle-cut
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon chili oil
3 clove garlic, peeled and slivered
2 scallions, angle cut
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Heat a wok or a fry pan, add the oil, and stir-fry the rabbit for two minutes, then drain removing the shreds from the oil.
2. Mix all the rest of the ingredients and toss with the rabbit, marinating them in the refrigerator overnight. Drain this about two hours before planning to eat.
3. Drain the meat and out on a serving plate and serve qhen ready to eat this dish.
Fried Rabbit in Red Wine Lees
1 recipe for shredded rabbit with fish flavor
1/2 cup red wine lees
1. Make the shredded rabbit recipe and before putting it in the refrigerator, add the red wine lees and stir well.
2. In the morning, drain well and then put it back in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. Remove and serve just before wanting to eat it.
Rabbit in Hot Bean Sauce
2 rabbits, bones removed, cut into bite-size pieces, fresh or dried
1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns tied into a spice bag
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons mashed fermented black beans
2 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups freshly prepared rice
1. Heat one quart water in a wok or large pot, add the rabbit, onion, and the Sichuan peppercorns in their spice bag. If usig a fresh rabbit, simmer for fifteen minutes, if using a dried one, simmer for one hour; then discard the spice bag.
2. Heat oil in a wok or fry pan, and fry the ginger for half a minute, then add the black beans and soy sauce and the drained rabbit and stir-fry for one minute before adding the sesame oil and the hot sauce. Continue stir-frying for two or three minutes more. Then serve over hot cooked rice.

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