Fugu, or pufferfish, is one of the deadliest foods in the world and the most notorious dish in Japanese cuisine. The toxicity of the fish comes from tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that is located in the fish’s organs especially the liver, the ovaries and the eyes.
Photo source: clicanoo
Death with fugu is awful because, while the poison paralyzes the muscles, the victim remains fully conscious. Death usually occurs within 24 hours through asphyxiation. Until date there is no antidote. The standard treatment is to empty the stomach, feed the victim with activated charcoal and support the respiratory and circulatory systems until the poison is metabolized and eliminated. The toxicity does not disappear in the cooking process.
Which such dangerous perspectives, how come eating fugu fish is so popular?
It seems that in very low doses neurotoxins makes people fell high. Japanese chefs are doing their jobs so well, that most of the time you won’t get the chance to fell any tingle. 🙂
Restaurant preparation of fugu is served under very strict rules in Japan and several other countries. Only qualified chefs with rigorous trainings are allowed to clean and prepare the fish. Cases of people poisoned with this fish are very few. The number of people hospitalized for fugu poisoning is less than 70 per year, with a fatality rate of less than 10%.
Although there is no antidote, medical research has decreased the fatality rate. It seems that many cases with fugu poisoning are the result of domestic preparation, or consuming this fish in unlicensed establishments.
Popular Fugu Dishes
Fugu sashimi. This is the most popular dish: the raw flesh and skin of the fish is thinly sliced that becomes translucent. It is served with a sour citrus sauce, grated white radish and chives.
Plate with fugu sahimi. Photo source: foodfrenzy.ocregister
Fugu chiri. Fugu cut into pieces and vegetables are very short time boiled in a pot with water. It is served with sour citrus sauce, red pepper and chives.
Fugu zosui. Eggs, rice and salt are added after the preparation of Fugu-chiri. Aa hotpot with a thicker consistency will result.
Hirazake it is baked fugu fin served in hot sake.
The soft roe of the fish is one of the most popular kinds of soft roe in Japan. It is often found in department stores and is served grilled with salt.
Yubiki. The skin can be eaten as part of a salad only if the spikes in the skin are pulled out.
Some people like to eat fugu’s liver too, but as the most dangerous part of it, serving it was banned in Japanese restaurants in 1894.
Take a look at this video that shows a chef cutting and cleaning a fugu fish.
Fugu is definitely more than eating fish, is a real culinary experience. Would you ever take the risks to eat fugu?
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