Fugu (Blowfish) FAQs >>Find Fugu RestaurantsIs it really safe to eat highly poisonous fugu? Definitely! There's actually very little risk of poisoning.
Japanese have been eating blowfish since the Jomon period (about 15,000 to 10,000 years ago), and through trial and error have cultivated a thorough knowledge of how to prepare the fish in a safe and delicious manner. You should make sure to try fugu at least once while you are in Japan if possible. It's always a fun experience because of its subtle, delicate flavor and the precision with which it is prepared.
There are several hundred different kinds of blowfish living in the seas near Japan. While a blowfish's poison is only found in its internal organs, each species of blowfish has its poison in a different part. Like edible mushrooms which, to the untrained eye, are impossible to apart from poisonous ones, selecting and preparing blowfish requires licensing and expertise. Don't try this at home.
Although rare, death from fugu usually occurs when amateurs catch and prepare fugu on their own - if you ever catch one,it's much better to just toss it back. Eat it prepared by someone who has proper training, and it will be delicious.
All Japanese fugu chefs are required to be licensed in order to prepare and serve blowfish in a restaurant. Restaurants that serve blowfish must also possess and maintain the proper licenses. Preparing blowfish at home is illegal. Because of these strict safety restrictions, fugu is quite safe.
Etymology of Fugu (blowfish)An excited blowfish, with its stomach puffed up and spines sticking out, is a well known image. The English names "blowfish" and "puffer-fish" both allude to this shape. The Japanese word "fugu" has quite a different meaning, however, written with the characters「河豚」. 河 means ‘river' and 豚 means ‘pig.' As pigs were believed to be able to sense danger, having the character for ‘pig' in the name announces the danger the fish can pose to the unwary diner.
Is Fugu (blowfish) expensive? >>Find Fugu RestaurantsYes, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily out of your budget. The most famous varieties of edible blowfish are the torafugu and the mafugu. The torafugu in particular is known as an expensive delicacy. All fugu is considered a high-end specialty food; ordering blowfish for one person generally costs between 5,000 and 20,000 yen. Of course, there are also relatively inexpensive blowfish restaurants. Don't let large numbers scare you away - if you want to try blowfish, there are restaurants in Tokyo that should provide you with a delicious, affordable experience.
Best Season of Fugu (blowfish)Due to the development of blowfish farms in recent years, it is now possible to enjoy blowfish throughout the whole year. Nevertheless, winter is still the best season for blowfish.
How to order Fugu (blowfish)Unless you are familiar with Fugu cuisine, we recommend you select a course menu, which usually covers the representative Fugu dishes below. Almost all the Fugu restaurants in Tokyo have a course menu. As in the case of other cuisine, the price of course menu depends on the quality of food, freshness and the number of dishes served.
Main Fugu (blowfish) dishes >>Find Fugu Restaurants
FugusashiFugusashi is fugu sashimi (raw fugu). Usually presented in beautiful, delicate arrangements, fugusashi is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. Fugu sashimi is sliced to finely that you can usually see the design on the bottom of the plate. That's not just for show, however; blowfish meat has more muscle than other types of fish, so if it were cut to the same thickness as most sashimi, the extra elasticity in the meat would make it too difficult to chew.
To eat fugusashi, first dip it in "ponzu" sauce, which usually comes in a shallow dish. Squeeze a lime or lemon into the ponzu sauce. The ponzu sauce is done to taste - use as much or as little of anything you like. Then, simply take one or two pieces of blowfish sashimi from the dish, dip it in the sauce, and eat.
Fugu-nabe and Fugu-ojiyaFugunabe, also called ‘fuguchiri,' is a dish in which slices of blowfish, blowfish bones, and vegetables are added to an earthenware pot of dashi1, made from konbu seaweed, and cooked together as a stew. Just like shabu shabu, you simply drop in the fish and vegetables you want into the boiling water for a few minutes, then dip them in sauce (usually tsukedare sauce) before eating.
Fugu-ojiya is a dish that is often made from fugu-nabe. After everyone is done eating the fugu-nabe, any leftovers in the pot are boiled in a pot of rice like a congee. Add salt to taste as it cooks, and you have a fugu-ojiya (essentially, blowfish congee). It's a simple dish, but truly delicious and especially good on cold winter days!
Fugu no karaageFried blowfish is also standard fugu cuisine. Blowfish meat is cut into long slices, rolled in potato starch (in lieu of breading) and deep-fried. It's generally sprinkled with salt or dipped in ponzu sauce and eaten. Fried blowfish goes especially well with beer.
ShirakoShirako is a dish made from - get ready - the testicles of the male blowfish. Blowfish caught during the spawning season (which starts in January and lasts until March) are the considered most delicious, and also the most expensive. If nothing else, shirako is a dish worth trying at least once in one's lifetime. It's rich and slightly sweet, resembling uni or foi gras.
Hire-zakeHire-zake, is a fillet of grilled blowfish served in hot sake. The sweetness of the blowfish and the savory taste of the sake combine to create an interesting, complex flavor. Since the sake is heated for a long time, most of the alcohol burns off and even people who usually find Japanese sake too strong can often drink hire-zake without problems. ‘If it's hire-zake, then I can drink it happily' is a common Japanese proverb. Caution: hire-zake is usually served flaming - make sure the fire is out before drinking. The sake is still very hot.
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