Death By Fugu!
Fugu, or poisonous pufferfish, is a delicacy in Japan. Its full of Tetrodotoxin, a poison 10 times more potent than cyanide. And, I ate it. When in Rome, right?
Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin that prevents the body from receiving oxygen. It causes dizziness, headache, exhaustion, and ultimately, death. The only way to survive a Tetrodotoxin poisoning is to place organs on life support so that the body is receiving oxygen until the toxins have been filtered and passed (Terrifying).
When prepared correctly, Fugu can be safely eaten without coming into contact with the toxin, as it is found primarily in the liver and ovaries of the fish. However, any chefs wanting to serve fugu must apprentice for 3 years as well as pass a written exam, and prepare and eat their meal before earning freedom to filet.
There are something like 27 varieties of pufferfish that are consumed in Japan. While there are certainly more species lf puffer, these others are toxic throughout their body and cannot be eaten safely at all. Some fugu are farm raised in attempts to lower the amount of toxin in the liver and render the fish safer to eat.
Of the 27 available species of Fugu, the Tiger Pufferfish, or “torafugu” (とらふぐ） is the most poisonous. Guess which one I ate?!
A Fugu lunch date in Japan will cost approximately ¥8000 ($80) for two. And dinner can run upwards of ¥20000 per person at more expensive restaurants. Although, why anyone would want a budget-fugu meal is beyond me. （”Lets get a truck-stop puffer meal”, said no one ever.）
Where to get Fugu
Japan is really the only place that Fugu can be bought, however it can be served in South Korea (called bokk-eo), and in some restaurants in the USA. Most of those restaurants are in New York. Here is a list of Fugu Restaurants in America
Fugu in Tokyo
I ate at Tora-Fugu Tei. The restaurant I went to had the fish displayed on the front of the restaurant in a giant tank. This is usual, as the fish are transported live in these tanks. They serve the skin raw in an appetizer dish called kawa-sashi (かわさし）, followed by oyogi-tessa (およごてっさ）, which is raw sashimi.
The main dish is a tiger blowfish hot-pot, or oyogi tecchiri. In the hot pot, the fish is served raw to add to boiling water and veggies. Mine was still moving!!!!
Finally, fried fugu is served, called karaage, （からあげ）and red-bean ice cream wraps up the menu.
If you are going to be vacationing in The Land of the Rising Sun, I suggest playing Japanese Roulette with Fugu. I really enjoyed the meal, and obviously didn’t die. 10/10 would recommend!