In Japan, die-hard (no pun intended) foodies have always been willing to risk their lives for a taste of Fugu,
a delicacy made out of puffer fish (or blowfish), which is deemed one of the deadliest aquatic animals.
Eating fugu can mean life or death for the diner. And the latter goes to the table acutely aware that, by the end of the hour, he might meet his Maker, that is if the chef preparing Fugu is an ignorant one. Still,
nothing compares to the palpable excitement of a food lover at the prospect of devouring a very dead and deadly puffer fish.
Puffer fish contains tetrodotoxin, a poison that has no antidote. Fugu chefs in Japan undergo years of rigorous training. They learn to extract tetrodotoxin from the fish and to also leave just the right amount of the poison in the fish, to give the diner the sweet tingling sensation on the lips without actually killing him/her.
It is the ovaries of the puffer fish that is considered to be lethal. So are the intestines and liver. According to chef Kunio Miura, who is regarded as a fugu expert with 60 years of experience under his belt, “Pufferfish is 200 times deadlier than cyanide.” Just a tiny slice the size of your fingertip is enough to kill.
Tetrodotoxin acts fast and in the most gruesome manner. It causes paralysis leading to death. And like the villain in a Jet Li movie, the victim remains conscious till the very end.
Fugu is usually served in high-end restaurants in Japan and the fugu chef license mounted on the wall is considered a badge of honour.
Every year, many people die after eating fugu prepared by either a novice or by themselves. Nevertheless, this dangerous fish is one of the most cherished indulgences in this part of the world.
Eating Fugu is like playing Russian roulette, I guess. Phew!