Viral video of live frog sashimi sparks protest

The Japanese are known for their obsession with super-fresh food, but this YouTube video of a young Japanese woman enjoying a dish of live frog sashimi while it wriggles around on the plate has some people hopping mad.

The video, which was originally posted in 2012, is shot at Tokyo's Asadachi restaurant, a place that specializes in bizarre food and special sashimi that goes beyond fish (think horse, chicken -- and in this case, bullfrog.)  Since it was posted, it has been viewed more than 1 million times, and has recently been kicking up a storm in cyberspace once again.

"I just don’t want you think this is Japanese food that the Japanese enjoys. It’s not."  

— Japanese chef Mamie Nishide, Japanese Cooking Studio

In the video, a large frog is stabbed, skinned, gutted and served up on an iced plate with a lemon slice and soy sauce. Though the frog is killed instantly by the chef’s knife,  it takes a few agonizing minutes for the frog to stop moving. In those moments, you see the creature's eyes blinking back at the camera while maudlin music plays in the background, and at points the frog flails its arms and flops around on the dish, while its heart is still beating.

We decided it was a little too disturbing for us to include in our story, but you can have a look at the video here. WARNING: GRAPHIC

Many have reacted to the video with renewed anger and disgust, calling it "torture" and animal cruelty.

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One person on YouTube wrote:

"The point here is not the frog being killed, but about the fact of it's being eaten in front of its blinking eyes god dammit! That's just freaking wrong. You have to at least respect that being that just lost its life to feed you. In the wild you'll see no such thing."

The revived interest in the video has also sparked an attempt to ban the practice, including one online petition calling on Japan's ambassador to the U.S. to help. So far it's got more than 5,000 supporters.

Japanese chef Mamie Nishide, from New York's Japanese Cooking Studio, says this is definitely not a typical Japanese dish.

"I just don’t want you to think this is Japanese food that the Japanese enjoy. It’s not."  She says the closest thing she's seen is a dish called ike zukuri, which is made with small fish, like a sardine, so fresh its mouth still moves when served. She said that dish took her a little getting used to. "This is totally different," she says. "This is bizarre."

If you're thinking this is a great episode for Andrew Zimmern and his Travel Channel show "Bizarre Foods" -- you're spot on. Zimmern told that he's eaten the dish many times and featured it in his pilot for "Bizarre Foods" -- called "Bizarre Foods of Asia."

"I can only speak for the experiences I have had over the 25 years I have eaten this dish and others like it. The frogs are dispatched humanely, despite the sometimes shocking appearance to the contrary," he says.

In restaurants that serve it, it's killed, skinned and served in several courses, starting with sashimi. He says in some getemono bars in Tokyo -- known for their strange fare -- they will serve the heart first. He cautions that it shouldn't be served nigiri style over rice to make what is commonly known as sushi.

As far as the claims of animal cruelty, he says this practice pales in comparison to the mass production of cattle, pigs, chicken and other animals for public consumption here in America.

"Our focus as a community should be on food insecurity, hunger issues and ethical treatment of all food animals starting at the places where the most good can be done. Good works need to be triaged, and, frankly, frog cookery of all types are generally humane, which is why I am more concerned about the American poultry, hog or beef industries,"  he says.