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Fugu Eaters - I Need You!

Hi everyone!
I need people who have eaten the Japanese Fugu Fish. I'm looking for good and bad experiences - What did it taste like? Why did you try it? Were you aware of the potential danger of eating the fish? Where did you eat it? And any other details that are interesting would be great.

Also let me know if you are in the LA area - thanks so much for taking the time to read my post!

Margaret

 
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  1. from what i gather,those with bad experiences arent around to talk about it.

    1. It's usually just called fugu or tora-fugu (tiger fugu), not Japanese Fugu Fish. If you do a search, you will find many threads on the topic as someone usually brings it up once or twice a year. Fugu seems to be overly mystified in the U.S. The poison sacs are removed by very skilled, licensed chefs. In cooked form the flesh is white and delicate, really almost bland, in taste . It's fried or served in hot pot with a light broth. It's better as thinly shaved sashimi (usuzukuri) where the flesh is translucent. Appeal is not in the flavor of the fish, but in the toothsome feel of chewing it. It's usually served with chopped green onions and a ponzu dipping sauce. Again, do a search here and you will find plenty of discussion and other's experience. You should be post on the LA board if you are looking for specific location based restaurant recs.

      1. You can get a very similar experience to Fugu Sashi by having Kawahagi, a non-poisonous tough-skinned fish that's used just like Fugu. For Sashimi it's done in the Usuzukuri style (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... ), and the fins are roasted and steeped in Sake for a pleasant Hirezake (http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... ).

        Only the rare Sushi bar will carry it, though my regular Sushi bar, Kaito Sushi in North San Diego County, has featured it several times this season, including this weekend! (http://sushikaito.com/SushiBlog.aspx

        )

        As for myself I never had Fugu as part of the classical Fugu meal, but had it either as a soup or porridge, I can't recall which, while travelling with family in Japan.

        1. Although I've lived in ny for 20 yrs. I'm from Japan and still go back there. Yes, I've eaten fugu many times. It'll probably taste very blunt for Americans. Also, what Americans don't seem to know or understand is that as long as you don't eat liver of fugu and eat fugu which is cooked by licensed chef, you'll NOT die or it's SAFE. However, liver is the best part of fugu(many things) and some stupid people try to it and every year a few people die.

          1. I had my first experience with fugu in NYC at Morimot's restauraunt. It was part of the omakase that night. The dish consisted of the flesh, sliced very thin, and a small pile of chopped "pieces" of the fish. The pieces in my opinion, were the best part. It included some cartiledge, and skin, and some other unidentifiable things. Neither the flesh or the pieces had a significant taste. Pretty bland as a matter of fact. But it was the texture. The flesh was "toothsome" as described in previous post. The pieces were a bit chewier and more satisfying to sink your teeth into, in my opinion. The dish was served in the traditional style, with sliced green onions and ponzu sauce. It was nice to try it, but to be honest, it was pretty expensive, I'm not sure that I would do it again. However, the overall meal at Morimotos was probably one of the best I have ever had!

            1. I had fugu a few times when I was living in Tokyo. The first time was the skin that had been julienned and suspended in soy aspic, then sliced like sushi. A regular "nabe", or hot pot was the second. And last but not least I had the full set course at a place that netted the fish out live and killed them for the table. That was probably the most impressive as we recieved fugu sushi, tempura, hirezake, hot pot, deep fried gonad or other sexual organ that was quite large and white (I really would have liked to know what part it was but the japanese name got lost in translation). People are right when they say the flavour is mild, but the texture is interesting and almost kind of crunchy (not crunchy like abalone though), with the exception of the "gonad" dish. One thing I thought a little interesting about the set course (which was at quite an upscale fugu restaurant), was that every course was served with ponzu sauce, which further masked the weak flavour of the fish. By the time the hot pot course was over, I was asking for a dish of salt and soy to experiment. It was a great experience though, and no, I never had any hesitations with trying it. I'm friends with a guy who owns his own fugu restaurant in Tokyo, and he says there are probably more deaths from regular food poisoning.

              2 Replies
              1. re: acooknamedmike

                You probably had Fugu Shirako, which is the milt taken from the Fugu. (So gonad would also be correct.) Shirako is composed of two Kanji's, the Shira part meaning white, and the Ko part meaning children. See? "white children" = milt...

                It's known to be the most delicious of all Shirako's out there, with the most commonly available one being the Shirako from Tara (cod).

                1. re: acooknamedmike

                  Others can correct me if I am wrong but there are female species where an option for the fugu course is the ovaries, sometimes just grilled over charcoal (instead of shirako).

                  Also as cgfan suggested, kawahagi is supposedly a great substitute and the closest you can get without worrying. A good kawahagi nigiri should also have the sweet raw liver on top. No guilt, no fear for your life :-).

                2. Today, many fugu are being raised in farms rather than being caught wild. Farm-raised fugu do not contain the same poison that wild fugu does. Although the taste is similar, it is not the same as wild fugu. Optima Foods Corp., a fish breeding company in the inland mountain town of Ainan, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, has announced that it has succeeded in breeding a nonpoisonous "takifugu rubripes" species and is now selling them online. My understanding, although not based on direct experience, is that the wild fugu is far superior to the farm-raised fish, primarily for its texture.

                  1. Does anybody know where to eat Fugu in Dallas, TX? Would Nobu have it?