Risky Fishness: The Fugu Thrill

There’s a certain odd appeal to the Japanese delicacy referred to as fugu. After all, it’s not every day that the food on your plate might bring about almost immediate death.

Fugu is the Japanese name for the blowfish, also called the pufferfish, which has the capability to puff up to twice its size and job harmful spikes to defend itself from predators. The spikes of a blowfish contain tetradotoxin, a poison considered to be at least one thousand times deadlier than cyanide. Theoretically, the poison from one blowfish could eliminate approximately 30 people.

Fugu is served raw, and its extensive fame and notoriety doesn’t originate from its taste. In truth, it’s been explained as a relatively bland, delicately flavored fish that doesn’t compare the more popular types of Japanese seafood. It’s an extensively accepted truth that the risk component is what draws individuals to this strange delicacy.

In the world of Japanese food, it takes roughly 10 years of extensive training and a special licensing program prior to a chef can consider himself competent in the art of preparing fugu. It is approximated that about 6 individuals a year in Japan die from eating poorly ready fugu, and the deaths are generally those of inexperienced chefs who are testing their own workmanship. Approximately 60% of people who consume improperly prepared fugu will pass away from the toxin, which results in paralysis and respiratory failure. Japanese tradition holds that a chef who prepares fugu improperly and thus kills his customer must take the honorable escape and disembowel himself.

Certified fugu chefs are carefully taught which parts of the fish are edible, and which parts contain the fatal tetrodotoxin. The pieces needed to eliminate the hazardous parts of the fish are delicate and require a knowledgeable hand and an understanding of exactly what to cut away. Fugu chefs study and remember the exact layout of the fish and the place of every drop of poison, and find out the best ways to eliminate it without eliminating the valuable meat surrounding it.

Understandably, with all of this training and care required, consuming fugu is not precisely a low-cost thrill. Fugu initially arrived on American coasts in 1989, throughout the boom of Japanese economy, however because the 1990s it has dwindled in appeal and is now mainly discovered only in locations of New York and the west coast. Japanese restaurants in America that serve fugu usually import the fish from Japanese chefs who have actually currently eliminated the toxin and purified the meat. Even without a fugu chef on staff, dining establishments can charge upwards of $150 for a plate of this exotic fish. But New York city chefs have actually adamantly specified that no one in the US has died from incorrectly prepared fugu since it came to this country in 1989. And for some thrill-seekers, it may be worth the cost.

About the Author Sarah

"I Love Cooking, and All Things Fish"