Fugu, the Japanese word for pufferfish, blowfish, balloonfish, globefish or swellfish, is one of the world’s most poisonous fish. The kanji characters used to write fugu 「河豚」 literally translate as “river pig”. The fish is a delicacy in Japan and has been consumed by the Japanese for centuries.
Image source: Just Hungry
Fugu flesh is edible, but the skin, liver and ovaries contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrododoxin. If any of these elements are consumed, then the poison paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious, and eventually dies from asphyxiation.
The trick to surviving a fugu meal is to make sure that it is prepared correctly. All traces of the internal organs must be removed from the fish’s flesh, that is why restaurants can only serve fugu if it is prepared by a fully qualified fugu chef.
Because the Japanese have been eating fugu for so long, they have devised many methods of cooking the deadly fish. The most common ways of preparing fugu are as a thinly-sliced sashimi, simmered in vegetables (known as techiri), or deep fried as kara-age. The skin can be served in a salad, and the fins of the fish are also commonly removed, battered, fried and served in sake.
So, if you enjoy playing Russian roulette, chow down on a Filet-O-Fugu today.
If you think that this is weird then check out 10 Weird Japanese Foods for more bizarre morsels of Japanese culinary strangeness such as raw horse meat, fish sperm, grasshoppers, nattō and more. If you are not that adventurous, then check out 10 Cool Japanese Foods for a delicious selection of ten tasty morsels of Japanese culinary goodness such as yakitori, sukiyaki, ramen, yakiniku, kushikatsu and more.