Where can I find fugu in san francisco?
[We're moving this post to the General Topics board because the replies have useul info on fugu and where to find it in the US. -- The Chowhound Team]
I'm interested in trying it. Does anyone know a sushi restaurant in SF that prepares it?
According to a recent LA post about Urasawa, the only place in the US serving fugu this season is Masa, in NYC. I enjoyed it there in mid-Oct. Out of a 30+ course omakase, Masa served 3 fugu courses that variously used the flesh, liver, skin, and bones. (The liver preparation was historic: one of those dishes you remember for life.)Urasawa served it in previous seasons, but a recent shipment was confiscated by customs, which makes one wonder how fugu gets into the country. This drifts off-board, sorry, but it answers the original question.
I believe that legal fugu gets into this country as frozen flesh only, after being cut by a licensed itamae in Japan and cleared for export. In other words, the most toxic parts don't ever leave Japan. Shiki (on Roy St.) in Seattle was offering a sashimi platter (the classic presentation) and nigiri pairs the last I heard. KK would know more about this, as he was the last of us sushi monsters to speak to the headman at Shiki directly.
Sushimonster, I love your posts and highly respect your expertise.
The fugu that Masa served me in Oct. was carved apart right in front of us, the various parts set aside for the different courses of fugu that were served through the night. It was definitely not precut flesh. That isn't his style.
Somewhere else I read that fugu is farm-raised in Japan and a non-poisonous variety is brought into the states. If this claim was true, however, you'd see farm-fugu in SF/BayArea sushi bars.
Is there a time of year when fugu is not poisonous? Is that why people speak of a season for fugu?
Fugu is a seasonal fish because its taste is at its best in the Winter months. In fact, we don't eat fugu anytime else in Japan. Farmed fugu may be available earlier, but the general rule is that wild fugu is best from December to February. Many farmed fugu have been chemically treated while raised, and not only is it not as good but also feared as being dangerous for human consumption by some.
I have been told that it is illegal to prepare fugu in CA, and that's why the only available fugu around here is the pre-cut stuff. There is also fugu that is not poisonous that is called Kawa-Fugu in Japanese; these come from the Boston area, but they don't compare to real fugu in terms of taste...