We’ll let you in on the secret of making the best frog’s legs and eel broth

Some flavours and dishes preserve time and tell us stories of long gone gourmet adventures. Frog’s legs specialties in their original glory serve as a living monument to culinary tradition. Even today restaurants from north to south Croatia prepare dishes to recipes that have hardly changed a bit. Even though they used to be considered a staple of the poor, today frogs make a sought after delicacy and top restaurants often include them in their menus.

Image author: Thinkstock

Seasonal ingredients peak: April - September

Due to their size, only a skilful chef can clean and prepare the frogs. Frog’s legs dishes are prepared all the way from Baranja to Gorski Kotar, especially near the municipality of Lokve, to Cetina and Neretva with the municipality of Lokve and Neretva area leading the way.

Given the fact that wild frogs have been overhunted, restaurants  buy them from local breeders at very affordable prices. In a canyon on the banks of the Cetina River, overlooking the magical green shade, guests of the family restaurant Kaštil Slanica can relish local culinary delicacies with frog’s legs specialties being by far the most recognisable dishes. Goran Marunčić, the restaurant’s head chef, was more than happy to show us his frog cleaning technique.

- When you clean the frogs, only the legs are left to be prepared. In order for the cleaning to be fast and successful, you need to make a knife cut on the back and pull the skin. The head and the entrails are removed, whereas the legs have to be in one skinless piece - he explains.

The second generation of the family restaurant Kaštil Slanica has quite a few frog dishes to offer. The owner Dunja Kadrić is keeping her father’s legacy alive by preparing dishes such as fried frogs with Tartar sauce, grilled frogs with prosciutto, frog risotto, fried frog in Omiš gajeta (potato gajeta), frogs Kaštil Slanica or frogs à la Parisienne on mushroom omelette, mixed broth (eel and frog broth) and Love Island platter which contains a combination of frog’s legs dishes.

Kaštil Slanica is a family restaurant which has been running for twenty years. Since day one they’ve offered their guests dishes of “Omiš rocks, Cetina and the sea”. The ingredients are all local, of high quality and prepared to traditional recipes, a feat corroborated by numerous awards and recognitions such as the Sunflower of Croatian Rural Tourism and Simply the Best, both of which are awarded for traditional gastronomy in rural areas, as well as membership in the European network Culinary Heritage, explains Dunja Kordić.

The bustling Zagreb restaurant scene offers numerous types of local cuisine, with tavern Didov san, located in Kajzerica, being a true standout. Guests can relax and try out specialties from Dalmatinska Zagora, Cetina and Neretva with a special surprise - frog’s legs in a pot with pura, i.e. homemade polenta. Owner Ivo Topalović revealed the secret recipe behind the menu’s most sought after delicacy.

Eel and frog broth is a spicy dish that takes a long time to prepare. First you chop a lot of onion and root vegetables, it vital that you slice fresh peppers and then add dried ground peppers, preferably hot ones. Wine, parsley, mint are always added to the broth. You can also add other herbs to your liking. It takes at least 40 minutes to finish the broth and it’s served with traditional polenta made from cornmeal ground in a watermill. The kernel is much larger and tastes better. Homemade polenta should be stirred up to 15 minutes. Since traditional cornmeal is harder the industrial variety, it’s extremely important that the waiter goes to great lengths to explain the preparation and the ingredient’s local origin.

We definitely recommend you visit the Neretva area if you happen to go to southern Croatia near Dubrovnik. In the family restaurant Đuđa i Mate in the small town of Vid near Metković, you’ll get a chance to try frog delicacies while sailing on a traditional Neretva boat.