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The Daredevil Experience: How to Prepare Fugu

While we don't recommend that you prepare your own fugu fish, you might want to know the process it has to go through before it comes to your table.

Have you ever wondered how expert sushi chefs prepare fugu? There used to be very strict restrictions on who can work with fugu or the pufferfish. Before chefs are allowed to legally sell and cook fugu, they need to be at least 20 years old and train for about 4 to 6 years to get a license.

However, there has been a recent move to make fugu more accessible in Tokyo. When approved, anyone can prepare fugu as long as they buy it from licensed suppliers who already remove the poisonous parts. It is also important to note that fugu is illegal in some countries.

The Fugu Charisma

This Japanese delicacy can be ordered from about 3,800 restaurants in Japan. There are around 20 to 40 poisoning cases per year which usually come with exhaustion, dizziness, nausea, headache, and sometimes death. So, why do people still eat it?

Many of the fugu deaths were caused by home preparation. When it is prepared by experts, eating fugu sashimi can be an amazing experience. Fugu sashimi is described as delicious, gelatinous, and delicate. Moreover, it has the most umami among different fish and it does not smell "fishy."

Preparing Fugu the Right Way

Fugu needs to be prepared before it would be used for the sashimi to make sure that all of its tetrodotoxin is removed. Tetrodotoxin works fast and violently, and it is usually found in all parts of the fish except the flesh. There is no known antidote and it can cause paralysis, numbness around the mouth, or even death.

While it is not recommended for you to prepare your own fugu, you might want to know the process it has to go through before it comes to your table as that delectable sashimi.
Because the pufferfish has no scales, its skin is first removed. The skin is pulled off by cutting around its mouth. The outer skin can be eaten but only if the spines are removed carefully. The spines are usually removed in one swift movement.

  • Since the fish will have a jelly-like coating, wash it off with salt.
  • The eyes are then removed.
  • The fish is now gutted. Extra care is observed to avoid cutting through the liver and ovaries. These two parts contain most of the fish’s poison. If you accidentally cut them, the fish becomes non-edible.
  • The fish is now filleted like normal sashimi.
  • The fish’s head can be cut into three parts. This can be made into a stew.

If you want to have a daredevil experience, we do not recommend preparing fugu on your own. You can look for sushi bars and restaurants in Sushi.com and they probably even deliver!