Fugu fish, also known as puffer fish can be deadly. Very deadly, very quickly. If the cook looks boozed, sleazy or if he/she looks unhappy when they see you, then it might be a good idea to reconsider the restaurant choice. Because once you've placed your order it's too late and the thrill of eating something that can kill you is... Well, how should I say? Exiting is understated, but Ronny James Dio nailed it as he sang: "the magic that we'll feel is worth a lifetime". And to be honest, the most remarkable thing about eating fugu fish was the thrill caused by my imagination, which instantly went on a rampage on it's own as soon as we started eating the three stages menu.
An other remarkable thing about fugu fish is it's price. Roughly 150 Euro for a three stage menu may look quite expensive at a first glace. But given the fact that you lay your life into the hands of somebody else (someone you've probably never met before in your life), there might be better opportunities to save your precious money. Well at least that's how I felt and all out of a sudden 150 Euro looked like a real bargain to me. Ok, to be honest, I also must admit that the restaurant was very cozy and fancy. And even if there's a place somewhere in Japan where you can get fugu fish for less than 20 Euro, maybe it's not that much of a bright idea to go there. Though you're privileged to judge on your own.
The cooks who prepare fugu fish must pass an official examination in order to obtain a license that allows them to prepare and sell the dish. A wide spread urban legend states that a cook must eat it's own prepared fugu dish as the final part of the exam. But we've been told otherwise.
Fugu fish poisoning survival guide
The saying goes that if you feel a tickling feeling on your tongue, it means than something went (and now is) wrong. The problem is that it will tickle anyway as soon as you start to eat, because your mind gladly grabs the opportunity to start playing tricks on you. However, if the tongue also starts to feel numb, or gets paralyzed, than you should (at least try to) visit a hospital as soon and as quickly as possible! But enough of the horror stories, let us better take a look at some pictures to see how delicious a typical fugu menu looks like:
The picture on the left side shows a mug of hot sake containing a smoked fugu fin, which gives the drink a fishy flavor. Than longer you keep the fin inside it, than fishier the flavor gets. In my personal opinion, the fin fits better to dry sake than to sweet one, but you might as well want to try both. After all it might be the very last sake you're enjoying, so you might want to stick to the HangOverEurope mantra: "much helps a lot". The picture to the right shows a plate of fugu sashimi with some chive and radish with red chili puree. As well as some (very chewy) fugu fish skin in the center of the plate. The sashimi was awesomely delicious.
The second stage consisted of some deep fried fugu fish, as it can be seen on the picture below to the left. Because of the odd shape of the fish's bones, it was somewhat complicated to gnaw the meat from the bones. The final stage, shown on the photo below to the right, consisted of some tecchiri a.k.a. fugu-nabe. Similar to a Swiss Fondue you boil the fish with some vegetables in a light soup.
Taste of fugu fish
Puffer fish feels like a very fat fish with lots of bones. Its a little bit chewy and its taste is rather dull - it simply lacks a clearly distinguishable flavor you know from other fishes (like tuna or salmon for example). Beside that, the texture of the meat is an other way to distinguish it from other fishes. It just feels like fugu in your mouth. All in all, eating a fugu fish menu was quite an adventure. But perhaps because of the fact that it can be lethal, I've expected a way richer, more exiting, somewhat more special flavor. And so the taste of the fish itself disappointed me a little bit.
That’s it for now, we hope you enjoyed our short culinary adventure into the Japanese cuisine and would appreciate it if you share this article using the buttons below. Thank you.