Kang Kep baob - Delicious Stuffed Frogs
By: May Titthara..Photos by: Sem Vannjohn & Titthara. ( December, 2002 Volume 2 No.12 )

Take a ride along Phnom Penh's Russian Confederation Boulevard on an evening and you will see stall after stall displaying delicious curry-fried frogs for sale. During the rainy season there are a lot of frogs in Cambodia, which is why people like to catch and eat them. This kind of food is a favorite of people who like drinking beer, wine or palm wine - the crispy, spicy amphibians are served as a snack to accompany an evening's drinking. Sok Nary, 18, is a curry-fried frog seller near Brampi Makara Bridge in Phnom Penh. "I'm very happy when the rainy season arrives because there are a lot of frogs at night, so I can catch them and cook them as curry-fried frogs," she said. "Frogs normally live in ponds and rice fields. They come out to find food at night, when it is dark and cool. Its easy for me to catch them. When you shine a torch in their eyes, the frogs can't move - that's when I get them," Sok Nary explained.
"People who enjoy curry-fried frogs often come here with their friends to drink palm wine. Some bring their girlfriends with them, too. I sell a lot of frogs in the evening here, especially at the weekends," she said. "Not only Khmer people like and can eat curry-fried frogs - foreigners can try them too, if they want," Sok Nary added. Khem Sarik, 48, also sells fried frogs. "Foreigners who have no idea about curry-fried frogs might wonder what kind of food it is. The stomachs of the cooked frogs are filled with pork.
And the cooked frogs are colored red, which makes them more attractive for people to eat." "During the planting rice season," she continued, "there are a lot of frogs, because frogs stay close to stalk of rice and at night when it rains, frogs come out to find food. But when the rainy season ends, it is very difficult for us to find frogs. This is what makes this business a struggle," Khem Sarik added. Khem Sarik explained how she makes the curry-fried frogs. First, she cuts the frogs' heads off, then she takes off their skin and cleans it. Next, she takes citronella, saffron, peanuts, coconut, pork and frog-meat, mixes it all together and then chops them all up. When the blend of spice is just right, she stuffs the mixture into the frogs' stomachs until they look really fat. Finally, she dries the frogs in the sunshine for about 15 minutes and then grills them for about half an hour- although some people prefer to fry them. Khem Sarik sells one dish of curry-fried frogs for between 2000 and 2500 riel. "Curry-fried frogs look quite scary, because their arms and legs are really short and their stomach is round and full of pork," she laughed.

Curry-fried frog is the best food for people who like drinking wine, and it's good for women as well. People who live in the countryside are particularly fond of the dish, because a lot of frogs live in among rice plants, so they're very common in rural rice-growing villages. When villagers have finished working in the rice fields, they like to catch a few frogs to eat with a glass of cold beer after work. Sao Sophany, 15, sell frogs in Ang Kasom market in Takeo province. "I sell curry-fried frogs every day during the rice-planting season because my father finds a lot of frogs when he's working in the fields, and my mother cooks them for me to sell," she said. "Sometimes I earn nearly 10.000 riels a day," she added, while carrying a tray of curry-fried frogs on her head. "I don't know what I am doing wrong, but when the foreigners get out of their cars and see me, they look at my frogs, laugh and ask, what’s that???," Sao Sophany said."All the same, I think they are strange too."