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Hanoians hop for Singapore frog porridge

Update: May, 20/2018 - 09:00
Green goodness: Pandan leaves porridge looks cool in the summer heat. VNS Photo Mộc Miên
Viet Nam News

by Mộc Miên

Like pho for the Vietnamese, frog porridge is a point of pride among Singaporeans. Tourists are advised that a trip to Singapore without a bowl of frog porridge is a failure. As a devoted fan of this dish, when I’m not able to travel directly to the source, I often visit a chain of Singapore frog porridge restaurants in Hà Nội. The location at 285B Huế Street is my favourite.

This restaurant, like others in the chain, is simply decorated to evoke the atmosphere of the popular restaurants in Singapore. The restaurant is always crowded due to the diverse menu: beside the defining frog porridge, the restaurant also serves stir-fried frogs, fried frogs, frog stomach and frog hot pot, among others.

Before eating frog porridge, I always call some dishes to start my taste. Sweet and spicy stir fried frog is delicious. Ingredients are simple, just frog meat, onion, chili, Vietnamese coriander and green onion, but the taste is strong and appealing. The frog meat is tender and soaked in spices.

One qualm: the presentation of the dish is lacking, perhaps because the restaurant is focused on serving affordable Singaporean cuisine like that find in the city’s humble hawker centres and stalls.

Flavourful: Frog is cleaned, dried and marinated with spices such as soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, special ketchup (a Chinese flavoring), sugar, oyster sauce, purple onion and spring onions. VNS Photo Mộc Miên
You can choose: Sweet and spicy stir fried frog(left) is much more delicious than stir-fried frog stomach with garlic (right). VNS Photo Mộc Miên
Humble: The small restaurant is simply decorated, evoking the atmosphere of the popular restaurants in Singapore. VNS Photo Mộc Miên

Though I am in love with sweet and spicy stir-fried frog, the stir-fried frog stomach with garlic left me disappointed. I expected a tasty dish and strong garlic flavours, but the addition of butter flattens the taste and the frog stomach is slimy because it was not treated carefully. The accompanying vegetables—onions, bell peppers, carrots and piper lolot leaves—can’t save it. I do not recommend ordering this dish.

My disappointment is relieved when the main attraction, frog porridge, is served. This dish has two components: frog and porridge. Unlike in Vietnamese cuisine in which they are often cooked together, Singapore frog porridge is divided into two distinct parts: a white porridge and frog meat on the side, saturated with spicy and salty seasonings.

Although it is a famous dish, frog porridge is easy to make. The most important requirement is that frog must be alive, so that it will be firm and have a characteristic sweetness. The frog is cleaned, dried and marinated with spices such as soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, special ketchup (a Chinese flavouring), sugar, oyster sauce, purple onion and cinnamon wine for at least 30 minutes.

The cook will stir fry onion, garlic, chili powder and marinated frog and add water to bring to a boil. He seasons the frog, puts it in a pot and continues to cook it until the water in the pot condenses, the frog meat is soft and spices are absorbed.

In addition to frog meat, white porridge is also important. Rice for porridge should be new and whole grain. The rice is cleaned and cooked until soft. Then pandan leaves may be added and removed only when it is well-done.

I select garlic porridge and my friend chooses pandan leaves porridge. Looking at my friend’s cool green porridge, I am a bit jealous because it is so beautiful. We are eager to scoop frogs and sauces from the pot into porridge and mix it up. The frog sauce is strong and spicy, together with sticky and tasty porridge, which makes this dish incomparable. The dark brown colour of the frog meat and frog sauce, the green of the onion, the white of the porridge and the yellow of Vietnamese doughnuts is enough to make anyone salivate.

Hot spices such as ginger, chili and onion are cooked into the dish so if you are not used to them, you may sweat as you eat. It would be a little inconvenient to eat this dish in the summer, but for anyone who is sick or tired and needs hot food to sweat, this dish is very suitable.

To sum up, this Singaporean frog porridge shop offers good quality food at a fairly cheap price (VNĐ120,000 – 150,000/person) for a full meal. If you are a fan of the traditional Singapore frog porridge, come and enjoy it. -- VNS

Address: 285B Huế Street

Opening time: 10am – 10pm

Price: around VNĐ120,000 – 150,000/pax

Comments: low prices, tasty, relaxing, comfortable

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