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Visitor post! I ate the deadly puffer fish in Japan by Jordi Bartual

(5 min read)

Hey Guys! I have invited my dear friend Jordi to write a post on my blog about his experience eating the deadly Puffy fish. I went to Japan last February and looked for it all over but never found it, so when he told me that he found it, i had to share this story with you guys! plus... we are both involve with Japan!

I’ve visited Japan five times already and, honestly, I cannot have enough of it. Everything is so different and interesting that I keep coming back for more with no end in sight. Since my very first visit, in the distant 2003, I wanted to eat puffer fish, a fish famous for inflating itself when under stress by swallowing water to appear bigger and more threating to possible predators. All good until here but the Japanese, that like to do things differently, can prepare Fugu the sushi from a species of puffer fish that contains a venom called tetrodotoxin that is colorless, odorless and can kill an average human in just few minutes through asphyxiation. Also, there is no known antidote, so if you get poisoned they will empty your stomach and put you in life support until your body basically gets rid of the poison. To be able to prepare Fugu in a restaurant the chef requires special training and a certification that can take up to 3 years to obtain:

Fugu is not an easy food to find. You won’t find it in a normal sushi restaurant and thanks to the language barrier is not something that you can easily spot by walking on the streets. In previous trips I tried to find it with no success and thanks to the awesomeness of the rest of the Japanese food I completely forgot about it until my last trip to Osaka.

Osaka is known in Japan as being the kitchen of the country where all sorts of delicious food can easily be found. As you walk Osaka’s main commercial avenues you will be bombarded with stalls selling what we could call “Japanese tapas” such as fried pork (tonkatsu) or balls filled with octopus (takoyaki). It was when we went to the famous Kuromon market when I saw what I was wishing for years to see...

Yes! The Puffer, then and there. For just 1,000 yen I could get 5 pieces of the poisonous fish.

Without hesitation I ordered the 5 pieces and while they were being deep fried I went to call the family to come and share the moment with me. Don’t let me die alone!

In just 5 minutes, the fish was presented, and we were placed in a side counter to eat it without disturbing new customers and even take pictures with a small puffer model. All very Japanese indeed.

I was about to eat “Fugu Karaage” or deep-fried Puffer fish which was marinated with sake, soy sauce, salt, garlic and ginger and then deep fried with a mixture of flour and potato starch. It’s crispy outside and surprisingly chewy inside. The flavor is soft with a consistent texture. No, it doesn’t taste like chicken, but it doesn’t taste too fishy either. I understood why this fish is not more popular, the taste. There is nothing remarkable about it, it is just a nice and correct fish. What it makes it special is the added adrenaline factor.

When we all finish eating our fish, amid laughter and pictures, we continued the exploration of the Kuromon market trying to spot a stall were we could eat Fugu sashimi for the real experience. We all considered that frying the fish was a way to safely get rid of any possible poison remains. I’m sad to say that we didn’t find such a place that day… but two days after when we were looking for a place to eat sushi in the commercial streets of Osaka we found this:

Finally! A sushi restaurant advertising Puffer fish. So, when the waiter came to take our order I just pointed to it in excitement… just to have a sorry look back while she was crossing her arms and saying “Sorry, not have”. What a disappointment!

For the rest of the trip, the little puffy remained elusive and we finally left Japan without tasting the rawest way of this intriguing fish. Nonetheless, the bright side is that I have now an excuse to visit Japan again.

Sayonora and see you soon!

Jordi Bartual

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