Tastes like Fred Astaire!
July 9, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

A user on food blog TheKitchn asks "Why do frog legs jump and dance when salted?" The answer? Unused ATP in the muscle cells.

Bonus link for all of the barbecue nerds out there: Meat Science!
posted by phunniemee (26 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think I'll pass on the zombie frog's legs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:17 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know that's hypocritical of me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 AM on July 9, 2010

All Tomorrow's Parties?
posted by _Lasar at 8:19 AM on July 9, 2010

Is that the same mechanism responsible for this? (warning: nightmare fuel)
posted by mhum at 8:19 AM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

mhum: I don't know for sure, but I would guess so. From what I understand, the salt creates a slightly electrically charged solution for all of these things to start firing. I did a developmental bio lab back in school where we hooked up a crawfish claw and a cockroach leg (which we pulled off of live crawfish and cockroaches, which was pretty awful) to electricity. The little leg started running and the little claw started clawing. It caused us to rename the class Zombie Bio for the remainder of the quarter.
posted by phunniemee at 8:23 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

This proves my theory that jerky is zombie meat.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2010

Oh snap, as much as I've eaten frogs' legs, I never prepared them myself so I didn't even know there was this kind of awesomeness involved in cooking them! Now I want to get some so I can play Herbert West: Reanimator in the kitchen.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:26 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yet another reason to keep kosher, I suppose.
posted by joedanger at 8:30 AM on July 9, 2010

Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Stayin' alive.

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:38 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know that's hypocritical of me.

I just figured it meant you weren't into cannibalism.
posted by Mooski at 8:41 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember reading an ad in an old Dennis the Menace comic from like 1965 or so that was asking children to catch fireflies and send them in to this research facility so that scientists could study ATP. That always seemed like an iffy way to do science.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

My family used to feast on freshly cooked frogs' legs when I was a kid, but I don't think the salt ever made them dance. I'm sure that our Dad, the official frog cook, would have drawn our attention to it if it had.

Instead, my sister and I used to amuse ourselves with the thoroughly gnawed bones by making them dance while we sang The Michigan Rag.

Hey, I never knew the song was composed especially for the cartoon.
posted by maudlin at 8:43 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

(And yeah, I guess our frog legs weren't fresh enough, as we got them from the grocery store down the street instead of catching them ourselves. I'll have to let my sister know what she missed.)
posted by maudlin at 8:47 AM on July 9, 2010

Hey Galvani, please pass the salt...

This is a perfect FPP. All the info I need to make a clicky judgement, and if I don't want to, I learned something.
posted by drowsy at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2010

Oh yeah, I saw the dogfish video last week, and holy hell, it's horrifying. I have some friends who hate fish because they're "creepy," and I think this sent them over the edge.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:03 AM on July 9, 2010

The dogfish thing is similar from what i can tell from the description(cant watch the video at work). What is happening is that by placing the dogfish in the acid solution you change the electrochemical potential by increasing the number of free [H+] (decrease the pH) outside of the cell. Even though the solution overall is neutral there is a gradient between inside the cell and outside a cell. This wikipedia article gives a rough idea of what goes into maintaining ion balance in a cell. Just a point of clarification adding salt aka sodium chloride does not add charge. Since it sodium is +1 positive charge and chloride is -1 negative. However a cell only allows chloride ions to freely flow inside and out, but maintains gradient by controlling potassium and sodium concentrations inside and outside the cell.
posted by roguewraith at 9:18 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

D'oh! I totally missed this awesome post when searching to see if this had been posted before.
posted by phunniemee at 9:24 AM on July 9, 2010

Hooray for more frog leg science!
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:28 AM on July 9, 2010

I'm torn between:

The things we eat used to be alive?!! - (sanctity of life moral reaction)


We are all festering bags of chemicals. - (no life is sacred it's all just chemistry)

Which moral am I supposed to be drawing?!
posted by edbles at 9:32 AM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

posted by Trochanter at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2010

A biochemist walks into a pub.
He says to the barman "A pint of adenosine triphosphate, please"
"Certainly", came the reply... "that'll be 80p"
posted by sexyrobot at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2010 [8 favorites]

If they're not knackered, they'll dance when NaCl'd?
posted by adipocere at 10:30 AM on July 9, 2010

Why do frog legs jump and dance when salted?

they finally realize they've been in boiling water and need to get out
posted by pyramid termite at 12:04 PM on July 9, 2010

The butcher at my local market often teases me in a friendly way because I only buy meat a few times a year. He recently mentioned to me that he could special-order anything I wanted, including (it turns out) frogs' legs. I'm planning to take him up on the offer soon.

So I'm especially glad to learn about this phenomenon before I ended up alone in the kitchen with a mass of twitching severed amphibian limbs.

When I was a little girl, I lovvvvvvvvvved frogs' legs and would order them any time they were offered on a menu. They always arrived at the table as individual legs, the way a chicken leg is usually served as a distinct single piece. Then one evening a waiter brought me a plate of frogs' legs still joined together, pair by pair... and I sadly contemplated the tiny little froggy hips and froggy behind that joined the legs together, and could almost visualize them hopping. I stopped eating frogs' legs that day. I think I'm ready to face them again.
posted by Elsa at 12:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Clearly this demonstrates the need for a new blog-to-book: This Is Why You're Vegetarian

oh god ick ick ick ick ick ick
posted by xthlc at 1:20 PM on July 9, 2010

Great, another thing to add to my already overwhelming do-not-mix list.
  1. matter/antimatter
  2. ammonia/bleach
  3. frog legs/salt
My ability to lead an unhindered lifestyle is becoming increasingly threatened.
posted by spamguy at 11:57 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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